A WARNING has been issued after two elderly Scarborough residents lost hundreds of pounds through a phone scam.
Crooks impersonating officials from the Ministry of Justice told the pensioners over the phone that they were owed thousands of pounds in overpaid tax and bank charges last week.
They then asked for payment in the form of Ukash vouchers, telling the elderly residents that the money was required so that tax on the larger sums could be paid and the cheques could be delivered by courier.
One elderly Scarborough resident lost £750 last week, and it was only the quick thinking of a member of staff at a newsagent in Aberdeen Walk that prevented the woman from handing over thousands of pounds more.
The staff member became suspicious when the woman asked for a further £2,000 worth of Ukash vouchers.
She then contacted the police who confirmed the scam.
PC Adrian Sartain, who visited the woman’s home and challenged one of the impersonators when they rang up asking for the cash, said: “These people target the elderly and the vulnerable. One of the victims last week was told that she was owed £30,000.
“These people can sound very convincing. They give a London contact number but actually they are using an internet connection from India.”
PC Sartain said that while scammers are targeting the whole of the UK, Scarborough may be particularly vulnerable due to the high percentage of elderly people in the town.
“We need to make these people aware of what is going on,” he added.
“A lot of elderly people do not have access to the internet and they can’t check these things out.”
He added that as well as elderly people, their families and shop workers should remain vigilant.
Ukash officials are currently trying to find out where in the world the £750 voucher was cashed.
In August, an elderly Scarborough couple fell victim to a Ukash scam, after they were phoned by an anonymous fraudster and told they had won a prize.
Police said at the time that the pensioners were left “very upset and distressed” when they realised they had become victims.
The Ukash company has previously issued warnings against scams. A spate of frauds involving the website Gumtree have been reported recently.
If other people think they have been targeted, please contact National Action on Fraud on 0300 123 2040.