Telephone cash scammers target cancer battle OAP

An elderly cancer sufferer who was targeted by phone line fraudsters is urging people not to fall victim to their scams.

People are being warned about telephone scams
People are being warned about telephone scams

The 71-year-old from South Tyneside, who does not wish to be named, says she was left terrified and on the verge of following their instructions when she was contacted by phone on Saturday.

The widow, from Hebburn, who is partially sighted and fighting cancer, had answered a call and was told she would be arrested immediately, if she ended the call or failed to pay what they claimed to be almost £2,000 of unpaid tax dating back to 1965.

But instead of asking for bank details, they ordered the pensioner to head to the town’s WH Smith’s and buy Steam (computer game) vouchers to the value of the alleged debt she owed.

They said they would then contact her later that day for the voucher codes.

She said: “I was terrified when they told me there was a warrant out for my arrest and the police would arrive immediately, if I didn’t do what they said.

“The woman on the phone was so rude. When I asked for a copy of the paperwork, she said they couldn’t send it. I told her I knew it was a scam, but she said it wasn’t or she would have asked for my bank details.

“I already had my coat on ready to go down and get the vouchers when I phoned my daughter, I was worried I was going to be arrested.”

The woman’s daughter took her straight to the police station where they were told to report the call to the National Crime Agency’s Action Fraud office.

The woman added: “It just worries me if they contacted someone who didn’t have anybody to call to help them.

“When we phoned the Action Fraud, the lady we spoke to, told us they had received a number of calls similar to mine.

“The fruadsters never rag back but I think that was because they knew I was on to them. I’ve had a terrible weekend. Everytime the phone rings I’m worried it is them.

“You are told not to hand over bank details, but this is something new, I would hate someone to fall victim to it.”

A Northumbria Police spokesperson said: “Scammers are sophisticated criminals who target and try to steal money from all kinds of people from all walks of life.

“Never assume a phone call is authentic and we advise anybody who feels uncomfortable or anxious when receiving a phone call to hang up and contact 101.”