Warning after 'tax office' fraudsters target pensioner

Police are warning people about a telephone scam which left a pensioner hundreds of pounds out of pocket.

Saturday, 14th January 2017, 2:02 pm
Updated Saturday, 14th January 2017, 3:06 pm
Police fear more people may have been tricked

The scam sees unsuspecting members of the public receive phone calls from people claiming to be from HM Revenue And Customs (HMRC).

A 72-year-old woman has already lost £1,300 and police in Greater Manchester fear there may be more victims who have not yet reported it to them.

The offenders, purporting to be from the tax office, called the woman and told her she owed thousands of pounds, before threatening to send police officers to her address if she did not pay some of the money back immediately.

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They told the victim they would only accept payment in the form of iTunes vouchers.

On Friday, the 72-year-old woman from Beswick, North Manchester, bought £1,300 of iTunes vouchers from Asda and Currys.

She called the offender back and gave him the voucher codes in an effort to pay a debt she had never owed.

It was only after the victim told a family member that she realised she had been tricked.

PC Amanda Simmonds said: “This scam is the work of a cruel and heartless confidence trickster and we would like to warn the public not be taken in.

“We know of one case already, but it is incredibly likely that she is not the only person to have been contacted by this offender or offenders.

“If you receive an unsolicited call from someone purporting to be from HMRC or the tax office and asking for payment of a debt you did not know you owed, treat this with the utmost suspicion.

“Similarly, I would like to ask members of staff at supermarkets and other stores to be wary of elderly or seemingly vulnerable people buying large amounts of iTunes vouchers.

“Some common sense questions from the cashier at these stores might have saved this woman from losing hundreds of pounds, and staff at big retail stores can help us make sure that no one else is taken in by this criminal.”

People who believe they have been the victim of this scam, or have any information which may help the police, are asked to contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.