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Two arrested after pensioners ‘targeted in bed bug scam’

Two people have been arrested in France  (AFP via Getty Images)
Two people have been arrested in France (AFP via Getty Images)

Two men have been arrested in France after allegedly scamming people into paying up to £1,800 for treatment to remove bed bugs that did not exist.

Police in Strasbourg said the men had been phoning victims to say there had been bedbug infestations in the area.

They would then visit their house, carry out phoney control services, including spraying aerosols they claimed were acting as a fumigator, before overcharging for treatment products.

They offered an ointment they said would keep the bugs away from human skin. In fact, it was a simple eucalyptus-scented cream.

The authorities said 48 people had been scammed altogether, many of whom were women over 90.

There has been a rise in bedbug infestations across France in recent months.

In October, France shut several schools over what was thought to be an infestation of bedbugs and the government held a series of emergency meetings.

The blood-sucking insects were reportedly spotted on the Paris metro, high-speed trains and at Charles de Gaulle airport. Individual cases were not confirmed by the authorities.

But entomologists and health experts have cautioned that the outbreak has also led to a rise in false sightings and unwarranted hysteria.

Victims of this bedbug scam would be charged between €300 and €2,100 (£257 and £1,800) by the two alleged perpetrators as they took advantage of this hysteria.

Police said they had received a total of nine formal complaints for suspected fraud.

The suspects were then placed under surveillance and arrested as they left the home of an alleged victim in Strasbourg.