Conmen trick pensioner out of her savings
A pensioner spoke yesterday of her anger at falling victim to an elaborate con which lasted a year and ended up tricking her out of more than £1,700 of her savings.
Now Judy Farr is warning other pensioners to be wary of the telephone scam, and said she is ‘now very street-wise’ about the dangers of buying items over the phone.
The 70-year-old from Trowbridge, Wiltshire, was contacted last year by a cold-caller offering an electric power-saving device, which the salesman said would cost her £99 but save hundreds of pounds from her energy bills. She agreed and the plug duly arrived. She began using it, but thought it didn’t live up to its claims.
Then she saw the item featured on the TV consumer rights programme Watchdog, and soon after she was called by a firm calling themselves City Claims Management Company, saying that since the plug was a dud, she would be entitled to compensation of as much as £4,000.
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“I thought that was a lot, but it wasn’t bad to be offered that much money,” she said. “Then they said that I would need to pay the solicitors’ fees up front and to do that I would have to purchase these things called U-kash vouchers, which you can buy in the supermarket.
“I did that and told them the numbers for the first lot, but then after a few days I thought better of it, and refused to buy any more. The man phoned back and told me that a cheque would be delivered to my home but I knew it was a scam by this point so I called the police,” she added.
suspect that the entire scam – right from the purchase of the plug – was an elaborate con: tricking people in a small way and then using that trick to extract potentially thousands more on the promise of “compensation”.
Mrs Farr bought £2,200 of vouchers and as much as £1,750 of them were redeemed by the conmen. She is now hoping to get a refund on the last £550. Police traced the vouchers and discovered they were redeemed in India.
“A few months ago, I discovered that £500 was missing from my account for some reason, and the bank dealt with that I was refunded, but I think that was part of it all too, because I had given my debit card number to them when I bought the plug,” she said.
PC Gemma Rutter, from Trowbridge police, said: “Unfortunately, scams like this one seem to always target the elderly and most vulnerable in our community. Therefore it is paramount that we are all looking out for others in our neighbourhood who may be at risk from such scams.
“Most scams seem too good to be true as they are and many seem very professional and realistic. Anyone who thinks they may have also been targeted in this way should contact Wiltshire Police or Crimestoppers where all information can be left anonymously,” she added.
Mrs Farr said: “It’s quite an eye-opener. I’m angry that people could do such a thing, especially to pensioners. I’ve had good support from my family, my brother and his daughter, and I’m street-wise now whereas I perhaps wasn’t before.”