In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, I am constantly amazed by the lengths people will go to in supporting their communities.

We recently saw the heart-warming story of 99 year-old Captain Tom Moore, who raised millions of pounds for NHS charities by walking 100 lengths of his garden.

Here in North Ayrshire, there have been countless examples of individuals and organisations stepping up to deliver food and medicine to the vulnerable, doing their part to support their communities.

Nor should we forget the critical efforts of our dedicated emergency services and key workers, who keep the country going at this difficult time. I was honoured to take part in a minute’s silence for those who have sadly lost their lives fighting this horrible disease.

While we are blessed with so many remarkable and selfless individuals, there will always be a small minority who seek to profit from a crisis by any means necessary; preying on the vulnerable to scam people out of their cash. With the heightened apprehension caused by the pandemic, scammers seek to capitalise through a variety of methods; emails, websites, texts, phone calls and even at front doors. They may try to sell coronavirus testing kits, even though these are only offered by the NHS, flog non-existent vaccines or miracle cures. It is particularly unhelpful in combatting this when US President Donald Trump touts fake and dangerous cures such as suggesting people ingest bleach.

Scammers have sent bogus phishing texts supposedly from HMRC claiming the taxman is issuing refunds due to the coronavirus, or messages pretending to be from the government requesting people pay fines for allegedly breaking lockdown rules. There have also been reports of bogus emails supposedly from the World Health Organisation, asking people to download a supposed ‘fact sheet’ on the coronavirus, in order to access their personal details.

To protect yourself, only buy from trusted and legitimate sources. Don’t be rushed into making a decision. It is okay to refuse or ignore requests if you do not trust someone. Be wary of anyone asking for money up front. Those seeking to pressure and panic you are probably fraudsters. Please be wary of any unsolicited contact at this time.

For advice on scams, contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 164 6000. To report a scam call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or Police Scotland on 101.

As people work, shop and socialise increasingly online during the lockdown, scammers aim to capitalise on this increased internet traffic. The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre removed more than 2,000 online coronavirus scams last month, including 471 fake online shops, 555 malicious content websites and 200 phishing sites seeking personal information, including passwords and card details. If working from home, it is important your security software is up to date. Hackers even try to access private video conferences.

People should forward any suspicious email to , a service established to test websites before taking down or blocking those deemed malicious.

Whilst this service is welcome, it is often difficult to recognise when an email is a scam. Such is the sophisticated nature of them that they often resemble official emails from public organisations like HMRC, or private companies such as utility providers or banks. We must be cautious. Don’t download or click on anything unless you are absolutely certain of the sender, and be extra vigilant at all times.

It is despicable that people will go to such lengths to benefit from a crisis. By alerting the authorities to a scam you have seen, you could prevent someone else from falling prey to it.