A SHAMELESS scammer has stolen £400 from a pensioner stuck in coronavirus isolation by offering to go shopping for him, only to pocket the cash.

The 81-year-old man, who has dementia, was targeted by a thief who called at his Oxford home last Friday and preyed on his vulnerability.

A police officer explained what had happened on Twitter, with the account sparking outrage from hundreds of people.

He said it was ‘unforgivable’ but that there had been an ‘overwhelming’ amount of people offering to help the man back on his feet.

Instead of setting up a donations page he pleaded with the public to donate to good causes like the Oxford Hub, which has set up an official and regulated volunteer scheme in the city.

Another officer (pictured) visited the pensioner, taking essentials like bread and milk, to check he was okay.

Thames Valley Police said it was the first report they had received of an elderly person being scammed out of shopping money, but it comes amid concern across the country that criminals will use coronavirus as an opportunity to exploit the vulnerable.

In a statement this week the Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police, John Campbell, warned that the force was expecting more fraud calls as criminals change their behaviour to take advantage of the pandemic.

Coronavirus-themed phishing emails have already been used to trick people into opening malicious attachments or revealing sensitive or financial information.

But now heartless thieves and fake volunteers are knocking on the doors of the elderly in a bid to make off with cash.

In an online alert, an officer wrote: “Thames Valley Police in Oxford has received its first report of thieves taking cash from an elderly man and promising to go to the shops for him – only to disappear with the cash.

“While families, neighbours and community groups are trying to help those who are stuck at home, some cynical thieves are exploiting the situation.

“Thames Valley Police don’t want to discourage anyone from helping their neighbours or family members in this time of need and don’t want to breed distrust in those genuine offers of help.”

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It said elderly residents should only talk to people that they knew and shouldn’t hand over bank cards, details or large amounts of money, adding: “Please look out for your neighbours and family members who may not have access to social media and therefore will not be receiving this information.”

To sign up to the Oxford Hub scheme visit Oxfordhub.org/community-coronavirus-response to help those who might be in need, or self-isolating, with small tasks like buying milk.

In a statement this week the chief constable of Thames Valley Police, John Campbell, warned that the force were expecting more fraud calls as ‘criminals change their behaviours’ to take advantage of the pandemic.

Anybody who has been a victim of fraud in similar incidents, or any other crime, should call Thames Valley Police on the non-emergency number 101.