The South African Reserve Bank (SARB) has warned the public about criminals going to homes claiming to be representatives of the bank and telling them to hand over cash saying it is “contaminated” with the coronavirus (COVID-19). The bank is encouraging members of the public to immediately contact the police if individuals approach them purporting to be SARB employees or representatives.

On Sunday, President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a National State of disaster, as 62 cases of the coronavirus confirmed in the country.

While most South Africans are taking precautions to prevent contracting the coronavirus, opportunistic criminals have taken advantage of the outbreak to rob unsuspecting citizens.

It’s understood that these crooks are carrying fake SARB identification cards and provide victims with false receipts, telling them that they can cash out the money taken from them at any bank.

Home owners have been advised to be extra vigilant, after reports of criminals trying to access residential homes claiming to be government officials and medical practitioners doing COVID-19 home testing. Once they gain entry, the impersonators rob unsuspecting victims mostly of cellphones.

Vice President of Crime Stoppers International, Yusuf Abramjee, says home owners should be on high alert to avoid falling victim to these criminals.

“Criminals always try to be innovative and they try to be creative; they look at new opportunities all the time. These gangs apparently go to houses on the pretence that they go to test for the coronavirus and some of them purport to be emergency workers and in the other case, they said that they were from a government department. No one goes around to do random screen tests so there’s no need to open up. These criminals are looking for any opportunity to rob their vulnerable victims and we need the public to be very alert.”