Pensioners in Croydon are being warned to be wary of ‘cold-hearted fraudsters’ following a string of bank card and investment financial scams targeting the elderly.
A 72-year-old woman from Broad Green was conned out of £5,000 last week after giving her pin codes to conmen pretending to be bank officials.
A man, claiming to be her bank manager, phoned the victim and told her that her bank cards needed replacing and he would send a courier to pick them up. She agreed, settling on a password for the courier to say when he arrived to collect the cards.
The courier arrived, gave the correct password and the victim handed over all her bank cards.
The “manager” called back shortly after, saying her cards had been received and he needed the pin codes for them, which she provided.
She told the man that she was not comfortable with telephone banking and wanted to set up a branch account. The man agreed but said he would need £10,000 cash to set it up.
She went to the bank where a cashier told her that she could withdraw only £5,000.
After taking the money out she received another phone call from the bogus bank manager, asking to meet her at the East Croydon branch of her bank to open the new account and that he would send a courier to collect the £5,000.
The same courier who had previously collected her cards collected the cash.
The victim only realised she had been scammed after receiving a call from her bank’s fraud investigation department asking her about activity in her account. She reported the incident to police.
Recent Citizens Advice data revealed that more than a third of scam and fraud victims are aged 65 and up.
Croydon Council has now issued a warning , reminding people to be cautious about giving out bank details. Councillor Hamida Ali, Cabinet Member for Communities, Safety and Justice, said scammers were often very plausible.
“As this sad case reveals, these scammers are often armed with information – such as dates of birth, middle names and addresses – that lends credibility to their claims that they’re bona fide officials.
“A genuine caller from a bank or building society will never ask for your pin code or account password. If asked, hang up the phone, and report that you’ve been approached by someone you believe to be a con-artist,” Ali said.
In May a pair of scammers told elderly residents in Park Hill their roofs were in desperate need of repair and they would need thousands of pounds to fix it.
A woman was conned out of £2,000 after a man, claiming to be her neighbour’s roofer, said he had noticed damage to her roof and asked for a deposit to put up scaffolding and repair it.
The resident withdrew the cash and gave it to him but then grew suspicious when the “roofers” phoned her saying they required an additional £4,000. She spoke to her neighbours who told her they weren’t having any repairs done to the roof.
Andy Opie, Croydon Council’s Director of Safety, said: “I’d urge all residents to be aware that cold-hearted fraudsters like this are operating locally and say that under no circumstances should they be persuaded by cold callers to hand over any sort of payment whatsoever, be it cash, cheque or money transfer.
“The chances are that, once handed over, the money will never be seen again.”
July is National Scams Awareness Month and the council has turned its focus to pensioners, who have faced the greatest loss in recent scams.
If you suspect you are the victim of a scam you can get advice at www.citizensadvice.org.uk or by calling Action Fraud at 0300 123 2040.