The Asian community in Croydon is being warned of the need for extra caution in light of a scam that promises a large lottery win but ends with the victim losing hundreds of pounds.
Croydon’s trading standards team has learned that Hindi-speaking residents are being targeted by calls from an India-based call centre.
The scam came to light when an elderly Thornton Heath couple received one such call. Concerned that it might have been a trick, they used the 1471 caller-identification service to check the callers’ number, and then reported it to the police, who confirmed it was a known scam number.
The number began with the digits 09234, and it is known that this and other such calls are coming from what are believed to be call centres in India as the callers speak in Hindi.
If the person called cannot understand, the caller carries on in English, claiming to be acting on behalf of a number of well-known UK companies, and saying that the recipient has won a lottery sum of £50,000.
They ask that an 070 number is rung to get a winning code that will release funds from their bank. Alternatively, they ask the recipient of the call to send up to £375, via Western Union, to release the winnings.
While legitimate telephone prefixes, both the originating 09234 call number and the 070 number are known to be used by current criminal scammers.
More than 2,600 fraud reports received by Action Fraud last year featured 070 numbers. Calls from a landline to this prefix can cost up to 65p per minute and may incur an additional call set-up fee of up to 51p. Calls from mobiles can cost up to £1.50 per minute.
In extreme cases, victims have received phone bills running into hundreds of pounds as a result of calling these premium-rate numbers.
“It’s important to stress that residents should never respond to unsolicited demands for money or personal information, even if tempted by the promise of some reward, such as a prize, inheritance or good fortune.
“If such a call is received, hang up, and then, if you have the facility, dial 1471 to note the caller ID and report this to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or online at www.actionfraud.police.uk”
Councillor Tony Newman, leader of the council