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Scammers have no shame when it comes to conning pensioners; Warning from cops as PDE campaign fights to keep OAPs safe.

Byline: DAVID CAMPBELL

Police have revealed the shocking tactics used by cruel crooks who prey on vulnerable pensioners.

From bogus work to online phishing scams - fraudsters will stop at nothing to steal cash from victims.

As part of our Protect Our Pensioners campaign we spoke to officers who face down the scammers to find out the lengths criminals will go to exploit elderly victims.

Inspector Tracy Harkins, from Paisley's community policing team, said their methods are constantly changing.

She said: "Sadly, there are criminals out there who think it's acceptable to target the most vulnerable people in our society.

"We deal with a wide variety of bogus type crimes.

"These range from bogus caller type crimes, where criminals attend your home and pretend to be from an official organisation like the gas or electricity board in order to gain access to your property, once inside they steal items or cash.

"They may work in pairs, where one distracts the homeowner while the other carries out the theft.

"These criminals can be very convincing and on the surface appear completely legitimate.

"That's why we always encourage you to check the ID of anyone attending at your door and phone the company they claim to be from to check they are who they say they are.

"Don't let them inside while you check.

"Reputable companies will have no problem with this."

Inspector Harkins said another common approach employed by crooks is to offer to carry out work on the house or garden before vastly inflating the price.

She explained: "Bogus workmen will offer to carry out work at your property and ask for cash up front.

"Sometimes they don't return to carry out the work. Often when work is underway they will claim to have found extra jobs which need urgent attention.

"A common ploy used is offering to clear guttering then saying the roof needs work.

"If you are planning to have any work carried out at your property please use a reputable company and obtain quotes for work. Check out the company online if possible to obtain reviews as these crooks are routinely outed by previous victims.

"Have a family member or neighbour with you, if you can."

And it's not just doorstep crime victims can fall foul of, crooks are also using more sophisticated ploys to steal victims life savings.

"Over the last few years we have seen a rise in cyber and telephone fraud," Inspector Harkins added.

"We have seen phishing scams which try to steal the bank details of people through email, or flyers posted through the letter box.

"Again, they will appear to be sent from a reputable company and ask you to supply bank or credit card details. Be very careful when opening emails and never supply your bank or credit card details. Don't click on anything which you are not sure of.

"Criminals are getting more and more creative in their methods and are constantly evolving their techniques.

"Recently there have been a number of voucher scams reported.

"A caller will claim to be from HMRC or some other official body or company and falsely claim that money is owed for an overdue bill.

"Often the victim is threatened with arrest if they do not pay up.

"The caller will ask the victim to buy iTunes or Google vouchers from a shop and thereafter ask for the voucher code to be passed over the telephone to settle the debt.

"The crook then uses the codes to immediately buy expensive goods online which they sell on for profit.

"An official body will never ask for payment in this way.

"If you get a call like this, hang up immediately."

Police in Renfrewshire say they are working hard to stamp out the cruel scammers and urged people to report anything suspicious.

Inspector Harkins said: "If someone comes to your door and you are not sure, contact police on 101, or in an emergency call 999.

"If something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't."

Protect Our Pensioners

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Alert Scams come in all shapes and sizes
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Publication:Paisley Daily Express (Paisley, Scotland)
Date:Sep 11, 2019
Words:680
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