Sick scammers target Cryptosporidium outbreak victims

South West Water has issued a warning after reports of scammers trying to defraud customers affected by the cryptosporidium outbreak in South Devon. According to the company, these fake calls - claiming to be from the water company - are made in relation to customers' compensation claim and direct debit details.

After the company confirmed it had found traces of cryptosporidium, a sickness-causing parasite, in water samples in Brixham this week, a boil water notice was announced and residents living in areas affected by the outbreak were advised not to consume untreated tap water. South West Water (SWW) then said it would provide £115 in compensation to all affected.

Now, SWW said it has received reports of people making scam calls to customers in the wake of the parasitic outbreak in the town. SWW has stressed that customers do not need to do anything in order to receive this money and the company does not need to get in touch about it.

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"For all household customers who have been issued with the Boil Water Notice you will receive your compensation by way of an automatic payment," it said in a social media post. Anyone who receives a suspicious call is urged not to give out bank details and report the scam call to Action Fraud.

South West Water said: "We have been made aware of scam calls to customers, claiming to be from South West Water, in relation to your direct debit details and a compensation claim. It is important to reiterate that we do not need to contact you and you do not need to do anything.

"For all household customers who have been issued with the Boil Water Notice you will receive your compensation by way of an automatic payment. For business customers, this payment will be made via your Retailer.

"Where we hold direct debit details this will be made as an immediate payment, where we do not this will be added as a credit to the next available bill. If you receive a suspicious call:

  • Stop!

  • Do not give out any bank details.

  • Report the scam call to Action Fraud, and make your family and friends aware too

  • If in doubt, please contact us at - 0344 346 1010

For the latest on the outbreak, head to the live blog on our website.

Latest figures from the UKHSA reveal that confirmed cryptosporidium have risen to 46 since Wednesday, May 15, when just 22 cases had been confirmed. However, around 100 more people are said to be suffering similar symptoms and the number of cases is anticipated to increase further.

The infected supply area increased to other areas including Boohay, Kingswear, Roseland and North West Paignton. SWW has issued a boil water notice to around 16,000 households and businesses in the area. Residents are advised to boil any water used for drinking, cooking, preparing food or brushing teeth and allow to cool completely before using.

Cryptosporidiosis is predominantly a waterborne disease and infections can be caused by drinking contaminated water or swallowing contaminated water in swimming pools or streams. It can also be acquired by animal or human contact.

Further information about boil water notices can be found on the Drinking Water Inspectorate website -

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