Police in Cumbria have issued a fresh warning over fraudsters using a voucher scam to con residents out of money.
Detectives said there have been at least two incidents in recent weeks where people have lost money through the re-emergence of a fraud tactic.
Officers have previously warned over people being contacted and asked to buy vouchers from household brands in return for fictional services, money owed or work being carried out.
Now they are again urging people to take care and help educate family members and friends about the threat.
Action Fraud – the national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre – says fraudsters use gift cards to collect money from victims because they can be easily redeemed and sold on.
The scammers do not need the physical card to redeem the value and get victims to read out the serial code on the back over the phone.
The latest incidents have seen:
- A woman in Workington being contacted by phone where a fraudster advised work needed done on her phone line. The customer was told she needed to have iTunes vouchers to pay.
She bought vouchers worth £350.
- Another scam which saw Amazon vouchers worth £150 bought from a shop in Cockermouth.
Detective Sergeant Stephanie Goulding said: “If you get this type of unexpected call, where you are asked to transfer money or hand over vouchers, hang up immediately and contact Action Fraud.
“We also ask any people with elderly relatives and neighbours to share the message with them.
“It is often the most vulnerable in our society that these criminals target.
“We need to all ensure they know enough to be confident against these scammers.”
Police are also warning of a separate number of scam phone calls to residents.
In these calls, the caller has stated they are from the “Serious Fraud Office” in London, contacting about supposed fraudulent transactions on a credit card.
They will ask for the resident to call them back immediately on phone number 161 to confirm who they are and to go through some details.
The initial caller does not end the call, making the resident believe they have contacted the Serious Fraud Office.
A police spokesman said: “Do not re-contact on telephone 161, residents will not be speaking to a Serious Fraud Office.
“Do not give any personal, credit or bank details over the phone.”
Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall, said: “I strongly echo the warning from the constabulary to be wary of anyone offering services over the phone and especially when asking for any kind of exchange with vouchers or giving bank details.
“What is so despicable about criminals who use these methods is that they will often target vulnerable people and especially the elderly, frightening them into paying up.
“Please do be very careful of any random callers and I would ask everyone to watch out for and warn their elderly neighbours.
“If in doubt hang up and report the call.”
For further crime prevention advice on fraud, visit: http://cumbria.police.uk/Advice-Centre/Crime-Prevention/Fraud.aspx
If you are a victim of fraud that is a crime in progress and you need an immediate police response, dial 999.
If you think you have been the victim of a fraud and it is a non-emergency situation, report this to police on 101 and to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 – or by visiting their website at https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/