Two men arrested after dozens of people scammed out of cash for fake bedbug treatments they did not need

8 December 2023, 07:15

Two men have been arrested over an alleged bedbug treatment fraud
Two men have been arrested over an alleged bedbug treatment fraud. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Two men have been arrested in France after dozens of people were scammed into overpaying for bedbug remedies they did not need.

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Strasbourg police said they would go to homes - mostly targeting women over 90 - posing as health officials after calling up to say their area was infested.

They would then pretend to fumigate homes using aerosol sprays and even offer a eucalyptus-scented cream for the skin, which they said would keep the bugs away.

Victims were scammed out of up to €2,100 (£1,800). It is believed 48 people had been affected.

The men were put under surveillance as they were in Strasbourg after fraud complaints were made to officers, and police swept in to arrest them when they left an alleged victim's home.

It comes after months of fears of the critters, with France suffering an outbreak in Paris and across other parts of the country.

Read more: British couple died from poisoning on holiday after next-door hotel room sprayed for bedbugs, inquest rules

Experts worry the problem is also causing false sightings as people become more paranoid about getting them in their beds, where they can take mostly harmless bites.

There were fears the infestation had jumped to London after people believed they'd spotted a bug on the Tube.

The capital's mayor Sadiq Khan has said they are a "real source of concern" and Transport for London (TfL) was taking measures to fight any possible outbreak on the network.

Read more: How to avoid picking up bedbugs in public? Signs of an infestation and how to treat it

"We don't think those issues will arise in London, but no complacency from TfL."

In October, a bedbug infestation was discovered in the furniture of a west London library - forcing it to be evacuated.

People hoping to borrow books from Ealing Central Library were met with locked doors and a sign warning of a "pest infestation".

Ealing Council confirmed there had been a bedbug outbreak.

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