HEARTLESS fake police officers are targeting people across Southampton caught up in the coronavirus lockdown.

Conmen posing as officers are using the virus outbreak to con residents into paying fake fines.

The fraudsters say their victims have broken the strict lockdown rules and as a result must pay a £30 fine.

Now police have launched a hunt for the fraudsters and have issued a warning to householders across Hampshire.

Police said the scammers are posing as officers or government workers to dupe residents.

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, or exercising once a day.

Officers have been able to enforce these guidelines by handing out fines to people.

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 three 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."