Conmen try out new scam

A RIPON woman has been targetted by phone scammers less than a month after another resident paid out more than £200 in a sophisticated scam.

Last week the Ripon Gazette reported the story of Audrey Blackburn, who fell victim to criminals posing as IT engineers who rang twice and persuaded her to pay for expensive and unnecessary repairs to her home PC.

Mrs Blackburn warned local residents to be on their guard against unsolicited callers, and thanks to that warning her friend Brenda Kitson was alert when she took a suspiscious phone call last Friday, October 7.

Mrs Kitson was contacted by a man claiming to be from the Ministry of Justice, who told her she was entitled to a £5640 bank charge refund.

However, as Mrs Kitson has never paid any bank charges she knew this could not be true, she said.

The man went on to ask Mrs Kitson for her bank details so the Government could refund her money, which Mrs Kitson refused, saying she never gave out personal information.

The man then claimed money could be sent to a Post Office account if Mrs Kitson first paid a £249 “tax”.

“I said no again, and told him if he put this all in writing and sent it to me I would deal with it,” Mrs Kitson added.

“You could easily be fooled if you had paid any bank charges recently.

“I was curious and wrote down everything he said and reported it to my bank and the police straight away.

“The bank said they had seen a few people who had had similar experiences recently.”

The conmen knew which bank Mrs Kitson used, which made her think the scam could be related to a phone call she received some weeks ago from a “market researcher” asking who Mrs Kitson banked with.

“I was a bit wary at the time, but I told them who I was with because I didn’t think that could cause any harm.”

Ripon police’s Insp Rob Thorpe said residents should be wary of unsolicted phone calls.

“Never give out any details over the phone, and if you suspect something isn’t right don’t even ask for their telephone number to call them back. Instead find the organisation’s telephone number from the phone book, and ring that.”

If you are worried about about a suspicious phone call or have been the victim of a scam report it to the local police station and Trading Standards officers by contacting Consumer Direct.

The Consumer Direct helpline is 08454 04 05 06 or log on to www.direct.gov.uk.

Insp Thorpe also said any suspicious calls should be reported to the telephone company, who may be able to block calls from specific numbers.