POLICE have warned Southampton residents of a new coronavirus scam, where fraudsters posing as police officers or government workers attempt to make residents pay fake fines.

Officers say they have received reports of scammers texting residents, claiming to be working for the police or the government, ordering them to pay fines because they were seen "leaving their address".

This comes after the government announced that everyone must stay within their homes, unless they are out to collect essential food and medicine, travelling to and from work if absolutely necessary, or exercising close to home once a day.

Officers have been able to enforce these guidelines by handing out fines to people, but now they have specifically stressed that these text messages are not real and that fines will never be sent out by text message.

A Hampshire Police spokesperson said: "We have been receiving reports of a new Coronavirus related scam. People have been receiving text messages claiming to be from police or from the government with messages similar to: 'You have been seen leaving your address on 3 or more occasions. As a result you are being fined £30. Please pay this by clicking on this link.'

"These are not real and are actually text messages being sent by unscrupulous criminals, intent on taking advantage of the uncertainty surrounding new police powers. We would like to reassure you that we do not send out fines by text message, and nor do any other law enforcement agencies. Please share this information with friends and family so that no one is deceived into fraudulently paying a fake fine."