Surrey residents have been warned to take extra precautions when booking their Covid-19 booster vaccinations after vulnerable people were targeted by a related scam in neighbouring Sussex.

Police in Surrey said that they recently received wo reports of scams targeting vulnerable people that attempted to extract money by posing as health authorities organising the booster programme.

In both cases, the victims were urged to communicate bank details in order to book their booster vaccination appointments before reporting the scam to the police.

The first case, Surrey Police said, happened on Tuesday (December 14), when a woman received a text message that appeared to be from the NHS. The message stated that she was now eligible for her Covid booster with a link.

"She filled out the form which included all her personal details such as her address and her banking details, where the form stated there was a £1.99 fee for the booster hence the need for banking details," police described. "Once the victim submitted the form she received a call from an 0800 number claiming to be her bank and told her there had been some fraudulent use on her bank account and she needed to move money to a new account which they had created for her. The man became aggressive and used abusive language and made threats towards the victim."

She later contacted the authorities and was linked with Operation Signature, a police initiative which works with those targeted in fraud cases.

The second incident involved a 91-year-old man from Pulborough in Sussex who was emailed by a fake NHS account urging him to enter card details before his booster vaccination.

Bernadette Lawrie, Operation Signature lead for Surrey Police and Sussex Police, described the incidents as "heartless" as she urged people to remain cautious of potential scams such as these.

"We continue to see heartless fraudsters exploiting the pandemic to target individuals when they are at their most vulnerable," she said. "We would urge the public to be aware of the tactics being used including spoofing telephone numbers so they appear legitimate and remind people that the Covid-19 vaccines and NHS testing services are free and will not request your bank card details."

Detective Chief Inspector Robert Walker added: "If you receive any communication that you were not expecting please be very careful about what you do. Never give your banking details out, ever. If you need to verify anything with your bank, the NHS or whomever has sent a communication to you, separately phone or log onto the official website and never follow a link sent to you that you are not sure of."