Police are warning elderly people to be on their guard against fraudsters claiming to be able to recover cash spent on payment protection insurance after a Poulton pensioner was duped out of £310.
On 30th September a 76-year-old woman was contacted over the phone by a man who claimed she was entitled to a refund for the sum of £4,700 for bank charges.
She was told that there was a cheque of payment waiting to be delivered to her but she was advised that in order to claim the cheque a tax of £310 needed paying.
The victim duly paid the fee via Ukash transactions at a local shop, only realising later that she had been duped.
Every month police receive reports from victims of cold callers claiming to be from a PPI company.
The caller will tell them that they have several thousands of pounds waiting for them and advise them to obtain a ‘Ukash’ voucher for a set amount, usually between £100 and £900 claiming that they need the voucher in order to release the funds.
The victims will obtain the voucher, send it off but then never hear back from the company.
“Sadly this is an all too common occurrence in which an elderly and vulnerable person has been conned out of money," says DC Tony McClements from Lancashire Police. “The issue of PPI recovery is extremely topical at this time; a situation compounded by a recession where people are struggling to make ends meet.
“Near cast-iron guarantees are given by the fraudsters that they will recover your PPI payments subject to an advance fee payable by you but no reputable company would ever ask you for advance payment.
“Although Ukash itself is a legitimate and reputable company, the callers claiming to be from this PPI company are often not and they are just using a legitimate company’s name to try and give themselves credibility.
“The best way to tackle this is never do business with a cold caller unless you have checked them out thoroughly. One way of checking this is by typing the company name or telephone number into internet search engines and you will often find other consumers highlighting potential fraudsters.
“I would also ask that friends and relatives of those who may be vulnerable are alert to the problems so that they can warn their loved ones to this developing issue.”
• Anyone who believes they have been targeted by on-line fraudsters should report it to www.actionfraud.police.uk in the first instance. If they realise that they have been scammed they can also contact Ukash directly via their customer services and an attempt can be made to block the voucher code before it is used.
Information can also be passed to the police by calling 101 or alternatively, people can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.