BOGUS nurses who conned their way into pensioners’ homes could have been operating for weeks, police have said.
The fraudsters, who pretended to offer on-the-spot flu jabs, were reported after targeting homes in the Drum Brae area on Monday.
Now officers are saying they could have started the practice in north Edinburgh as early as October, just when the Scottish Government was formally launching its flu-vaccination initiative.
Police have issued a warning about the scam, which allows thieves to enter people’s homes, and are telling householders to turn away anyone who raises their suspicions.
In one of Monday’s incidents, a 63-year-old woman refused access to her home in Drum Brae Avenue after a visit from two young women, who claimed to be nurses offering the jags.
Detective Constable Roddy Scott said: “It appears that on Monday there were two instances of two young females in their late teens or early 20s targeting vulnerable females in their homes, claiming to be from the district nursing service and offering to inject them there and then.
“I think it was an attempt to gain access to their homes – I wouldn’t want to cause any alarm by suggesting that they are out there with syringes, hoping to inject people. I don’t think that’s the case.
“We have had instances before where one or two members of the criminal fraternity have been trying to gain access to people’s homes and we think this is a case of something similar. I’m investigating two cases on Monday and a number of others way back as far as early October using the same modus operandi. This is a despicable crime committed by desperate individuals preying on some of society’s most vulnerable people.
“The main thing is not to give access to your property to anybody that you’re unsure of.
“I’ve been in touch with NHS Lothian and have been assured that any calls after 4pm are not likely to be from district nurses, and all calls would certainly be pre-arranged with the patient.”
After hearing reports of the bogus nurses, Edinburgh Western MSP Colin Keir visited Muirhouse Medical Group, where he put up a poster reminding patients to ask for ID at the doorstep.
He said: “If you’re not expecting a flu jag appointment, refuse to let any health visitor into your home.”