Woman hits out at fraudsters

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A St Helens woman has told of her shock after she was targeted by telephone fraudsters she branded “the lowest of the low”.

The woman told how she initially panicked after receiving a call from someone claiming to be a detective from Hammersmith CID - the same alias used by a conman who tricked two other pensioners out of part of their life-savings.

He told the victim to call her bank and ask for the account to be put on hold but it is believed this was a ruse to allow the fraudsters to listen in to the conversation and obtain her account details.

She said: “He told me he had to keep the call very quick and asked if I had given permission for someone to use my debit card to spend £1,800 in an Apple store.

“I said ‘definitely not’. He then told me to call the telephone number on the back of my debit card to put a stop on my account. My heart was racing.

“I don’t know why, but I asked if he had a telephone number that I could call him back on. He said ‘no’ and that he would call me back in 15 minutes. That made me smell a rat.”

The victim, who is in her 60s and from Sutton, decided to use her mobile telephone to ring the bank instead of the landline on which she had received the call.

She said: “When I picked the landline phone up again there was a tone - but not a normal tone. I called the bank from my mobile and they told me it wasn’t a legitimate call.

“They told me to cut up the debit card and they would send me a new one. When I dialled 1471 to try to find out the fraudster’s number, the number was withheld.”

Earlier this month two elderly women were tricked into handing over significant portions of their life-savings by conmen also posing as police officers.

The two victims were swindled out of almost £12,500 after falling victim to be an elaborate scam.

In both incidents vulnerable victims were warned that someone had tried to access their accounts and told to withdraw thousands of pounds before a courier turned up on their doorsteps to take the cash away.

The victim added: “These people are the lowest of the low. The man who called sounded genuine and another person could easily have been duped.

“I would advise anyone who receives a call like this to always ask for a telephone number to call them back on. If it’s a genuine call they will be only too happy to do that.”

Supt Louise Harrison said: “All these offences are very similar and we believe they are all linked. Offenders are usually very plausible and can pose as a range of officials, not just police officers.

“We are also working with the banks and I know their staff are on the look out for suspicious transactions or anyone who they believe may be the target of offences such as these.”

Anyone with information about any of these incidents can call detectives in St Helens CID on 0151 777 6013 or Crimestoppers, in confidence, on 0800 555 111.