POLICE are urging householders to be on their guard after a Monifieth woman was almost conned out of £200 by a cold caller who promised her thousands of pounds in return.
The 72-year-old woman was called last Wednesday morning by a man with an Asian accent who claimed to be with the Ministry for Justice.
He said that due to historical overcharges the woman was entitled to a compensation cheque for several thousand pounds. However, to cover the tax she would have to purchase Ukash vouchers from a store and provide him with the serial numbers.
While she did purchase vouchers, shop staff warned her that it might be a scam and the woman ultimately called the police.
Ukash is an electronic payment system that allows the user to carry out online transactions without using payment cards. Users pay for the voucher at convenience stores or retailers using the PayPoint/Epay/Payzone facilities. Vouchers can be spent online where Ukash is accepted. All that is required is the voucher’s digit code.
Ukash provide the following advice on their website:
* Do not send Ukash to anyone cold calling you to offer a tax rebate. This is a fraud and you will lose your money. Only spend Ukash online and at genuine merchants listed at www.ukash.com/spend
* Never e-mail vouchers or give voucher codes in full or part by e-mail or over the ‘phone to anyone as you will lose your money.
A Tayside Police spokesman said: “People should always be extremely cautious about providing personal and financial details over the ‘phone, particularly in instances where they have been cold-called.
“We receive reports about householders and businesses receiving unsolicited calls from people who claim to be from well-known, reputable companies, or financial institutions. Details that have been requested can include cardholder’s name, card numbers, passwords and card expiry dates.
“Others more recently have requested their victims to send cash in advance, whether by voucher, cheque or cash transfer in exchange for greater riches. Do not fall for their false promises.”
He continued: “While it is common practice to carry out transactions over the ‘phone, we would advise people not to share financial details with a cold caller.
“Personal information should not be shared in such circumstances either, including simple information such as when you may or may not be at home. Such callers may be very convincing, but householders must keep in mind the fact that the person at the other end of the line has put time and effort into rehearsing their lines with the hope of catching them out.
“Be suspicious of all such calls and always make every effort to ensure that the person at end of the line is who they claim to be, represent who they claim to represent and are legitimate and reputable.
“If you are unsure, take details of their company so you can check their credentials. You can even take a number with a view to checking out their details and calling the company they say they are from at a later time using a number you have obtained independently.”
The spokesman concluded: “Above all else if you have concerns of suspicions hang up and contact the police on 0300 111 2222.”