The council’s trading standards team is warning over-70s about phone scams after a South Croydon woman was duped out of £650 worth of iTunes vouchers.
The woman was telephoned out of the blue by a man who said she had won a £5,000 prize but needed to buy the music vouchers to complete her claim.
The victim bought the vouchers and read the codes over the phone to the scammer, who then fleeced her out of the £650. Croydon Council trading standards officers are warning that con artists are choosing iTunes because they are untraceable, unrefundable and are easy to sell on.
Once she realised she had been conned, the victim contacted the police and trading standards officers, who installed a call-blocking device on her telephone to prevent further scam attempts.
Another scam, this time involving a bogus inheritance, was averted when the target, a Coulsdon man in his seventies, contacted trading standards officers. He had received a letter suggesting he would inherit up to $9.75 million from an unfamiliar distant relative’s will if he confidentially telephoned a Hong Kong number and paid a release fee.
As part of Scams Awareness Month, Croydon Council’s trading standards team is warning residents over 70 that they are most likely to both be targeted by scams and become repeat victims. Telephone fraud that the over-70s could face include fake investments, phoney prize draws or lottery wins, and bank courier card scams.
Trading standards advice to avoid these scams includes:
• Say no to cold-call investments and pension reviews
• If you haven’t bought a ticket, you can’t win it
• You shouldn’t have to pay anything to get a prize
• If you’re contacted out of the blue, be suspicious
• Your bank will never ask you for your PIN or your online banking password.
“Older scam victims suffer not just financially and emotionally, but also run the particular risk of losing the confidence they need to stay independent and avoid life-changing health problems.
“Telephone frauds on the over-70s are a particular favourite of scammers because they exploit people’s trusting nature, so before accepting anything make sure you tell a relative, a friend or one of our trading standards team for advice.”
Councillor Hamida Ali, cabinet member for safer Croydon and communities
For more information, call the Citizens’ Advice consumer service on 03454 040506. If what you are reporting is a scam this will automatically be reported to trading standards officers.
Report scams and suspected scams to Action Fraud 0300 123 2040 or visit www.actionfraud.police.uk. If debit cards, online banking or cheques are involved, contact your bank or credit card company.