The information in these posts is not true, and this is not the first time this misinformation has been shared. This claim has spread and found to be false in many different countries around the world.
The posts reads:
People are going door to door handing out masks, they say it’s a new initiative from local government. They will always ask you to please put it on to see if it fits you. It has been doused with chemicals which knocks you out cold and once you're knocked out they proceed to rob you. Please do not accept masks from strangers. Remember, we are living in critical times and people are desperate to take advantage with the aim of making money. Crime rate has skyrocketed, so please be cautious and play safe!
Please send to all your friends, colleagues and loved ones so as to help them stay vigilant in this adverse situation.
Remember, sharing is caring!”
Full Fact cannot find any evidence of a UK police bulletin or other police warnings about this, and there are no reports in the media of this scam taking place.
The post does not include the town, region or even country where this scam is supposed to be carried out, and the same post or very similar versions have been shared globally, with fact checkers around the world finding it to be false.
Reuters found a UK version of the post to be false in April, but the same claim has re-emerged this week.
The Metropolitan Police recommends that you check the ID of anyone knocking on your door claiming to be from a company. It says you should not call the phone number on their ID card, but ask them to wait outside while you search for the company’s phone number on the internet. Do not let them into your property if you have concerns.
Age UK recommends putting up a sign on your door or window to deter cold callers, setting passwords with utility companies to be used by anyone sent to your home and finding out if you have a nominated neighbour scheme to help make sure callers are safe.
This article is part of our work fact checking potentially false pictures, videos and stories on Facebook. You can read more about this—and find out how to report Facebook content—here.
For the purposes of that scheme, we’ve rated this claim as false
because there is no evidence of this police warning being real or this crime taking place. It has been found to be false around the world.
Conspiracies, bad reporting and scams threaten to prolong the pandemic. Will you stand up for an honest 2021?
This year we fact checked hundreds of false and unsubstantiated claims about the coronavirus. As we look to 2021, conspiracy theories about vaccines, and inaccurate reporting about important statistics threaten to prolong the pandemic. We need your support to call out false and harmful claims, and protect people across the UK from bad information.
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With bad information showing no signs of stopping, can we count on you this week for a more honest 2021?