Phone scammers 'offensive' to mum who refused to pay
A TIVERTON woman has warned others in the town to be wary of a telephone scam which almost cost her £200 just days before Christmas.
Kate Clithero, 37, was contacted by phone by a man claiming to be from the Ministry of Justice who suggested he could help her recover £3,400 of bank charges.
Under the scam, callers are instructed to go to local shops and purchase a £200 Ukash voucher to help facilitate the release of the repayment.
Kate said she wanted to raise awareness of the scam so that others were not taken in by it.
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She said: "They rang on the Saturday morning before Christmas and I have a young daughter and so at this time of year, £3,000 in repaid bank charges would really come in handy. I'm not taken for a fool generally, but I admit I fell for it."
Kate said the person she talked to had initially seemed "very plausible" but when she had second thoughts about the transaction, their tone changed dramatically.
She said: "They have rung up three or four times since and on the last couple of times, they have said some really offensive things to me, it is a good job I have a thick skin or I would have been upset by it."
Kate said the caller did not leave her out of pocket but the episode had caused her disruption. She said: "I had to cancel all my bank cards and transfer my accounts but thankfully I didn't lose any money."
She said her husband had gone to the Spar shop in Westexe to get a £200 Ukash voucher. The shopkeeper asked him what it was for and caused him to think twice about giving it to the callers. Ukash is a genuine payment service often used to send cash to friends and family overseas but Trading Standards also warn it is popular with scammers because it enables money to be transferred almost instantly.
Mrs Clithero said she had contacted the police about the incident and was told this type of scam was common and in some cases victims are asked to make more than one trip to their shop to purchase voucher codes in expectation of receiving even larger sums of money.
Steve Proffitt, head of Action Fraud, which provides a reporting service for scams, said: "People should be on their guard and not hand over any money until completely confident a company is legitimate. They should never pay upfront to release funds.
"If people are concerned, they should contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. The simple rule remains: if a call like this comes out of nowhere and seems too good to be true, there's a good chance it could be a scam."