Sheffield rubbish collectors asked to dig Covid-19 lateral flow tests out of residents' trash

Scammers are trying to get their hands on used Covid-19 lateral flow tests in Sheffield by going through rubbish and approaching refuse collection workers in order to sell the tests on.

Tuesday, 11th January 2022, 12:01 pm
Divert staff are told to say no whenever anyone asks if they can look in someone else's bins.
Divert staff are told to say no whenever anyone asks if they can look in someone else's bins.

Mark Hall of national waste removal company Divert, which collects any kind of waste for a fee, said that people were aiming to sell used positive and negative lateral flow tests to people who will use them for their own purposes.

A test showing a positive result could be used to get out of going to work, while a negative test could allow someone who has Covid-19 to enter events where tests are required, such as gigs, potentially spreading the virus as they do so.

Mark said: “We have been told by our workers in Sheffield and elsewhere that this is happening.

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A negative test could be used by someone who has Covid-19 to get into venues where a negative test is required.

"The rules to our staff have always been to say no to everything. We get quite a few people saying they have left their keys in the bin and can they have a look through the sorting facility. It just doesn’t work like that.

“I don’t always hear about these kinds of incidents because it is such a common thing. We have had at least five or six incidents reported in the last few days.”

In some cases, he said Divert refuse workers were offered money to let people pick through waste, although sometimes they don’t even ask, as Divert staff have found sacks of office waste ripped open by people they believe were hunting for tests.

Mark added: “Refuse workers have a hard enough job as it is without clearing up after these goons. It’s a disgusting and immoral trade. This kind of selfishness and stupidity will lead to further infections and deaths.”

Mark Hall, spokesman for Divert, said that staff are often approached by people asking if they can take items from other people's bins.

Mark said that he wasn’t surprised when he first heard about the scam, because Divert staff are often approached by people hoping to take items from other people’s bins – be it old laptops, or more recently Blackberry phones, for the trace amount of precious metal inside.

He added: “This is just the latest thing, next week it will be something else. It is crackers."

Mark advises people to snap their used lateral flow tests and rub off the QR code when they dispose of them, and not to post on social media when they have taken a test.

Veolia, Sheffield’s waste management service which is responsible for Sheffield household bin collections, has been approached for comment.