“You always have to be on your guard,” said an elderly woman this week, as police highlighted two further attempts by phone scammers to con money from vulnerable people in the Grantham area.
Just days after the Journal reported that a 92-year-old Grantham woman was conned out of £23,000 by scammers claiming to be from Barclays bank, police have released details of two similar incidents.
Last Wednesday, an 85-year-old man in Harlaxton was targeted. He was contacted on his landline by someone pretending to be from Lloyds Bank who said there had been fraudulent activity on his account. He was told he should go to the bank and transfer £80,000 into a separate account. The gentleman realised something was not quite right about the situation and reported it to police.
Then on Thursday, a 77-year-old man reported receiving between three and five calls a day from companies who were advising him to transfer his savings. In the most recent call someone claiming to be from the Met Police stated he was an investigator and the gentleman would be arrested if he did not comply. He did not transfer any money.
Stella Clare is one pensioner who was almost tricked into losing her savings. The 82-year-old, of Thames Road in Grantham, received a call from a woman claiming to be from Virgin Media. Persuaded the call was genuine after the woman read out her full name and date of birth, Mrs Clare was asked to give her card details. “Stupidly, I did,” she said. “She knew my birth date so I thought she must be alright.”
It was only after replacing the receiver that she began to doubt the call was genuine and she caught the next bus into town to visit her bank. Thankfully, she was in time and her card was cancelled.
Afterwards, Mrs Clare was handed leaflets by the bank raising awareness of scams, which she took to her next social club gathering. “It was surprising how many people in the room are having calls,” she said.
But it is not only by answering the phone that vulnerable people can get caught out. “A chap I know was telling me that last year that a girl came to his house and said she was collecting for charity. She wanted a £5 donation but he didn’t have any cash. He gave her his bank card and she took out thousands of pounds.
“It’s terrible to think people can do this sort of thing. It’s awful. You always have to be on your guard.”
Inspector Gary Stewart, of Lincolnshire Police, said phone scams are a problem nationwide and there is “no reason to believe that elderly or vulnerable people in Grantham are specifically being pinpointed”.
He added: “However, what we don’t know is how these people are being chosen. Are these scammers simply calling as many numbers as they can and latching on to someone when they engage with them? Or are they already aware of people who might be vulnerable? All this is part of our investigation and we are working with other forces who have had similar offences.
“What we really need is to hear from anyone who has experienced anything like this, even if it just seemed an annoying call. It’s possible that call could have been a scammer who in the next few minutes went on to defraud someone of their life savings. They have no morals. The more we get to know about them the closer it may bring us to tracking them down, so please do give us that information.”
* For information on call-blocking devices, go to www.cprcallblocker.com or www.truecall.co.uk