Police are warning residents to be vigilant after an Eastbourne woman was defrauded of £3,000 following a phone call telling her she owed HMRC £940 or faced arrest.
The 77-year old woman was cold-called by a man who said he was from the Inland revenue on Monday (November 20), said police.
He told her to visit her local supermarkets to buy iTunes vouchers to pay off the amount owed and to stay on the phone line the whole time she was buying them.
According to police, the woman visited Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s and bought a total of £3,000 worth of vouchers, and immediately gave over the serial numbers on the back to the unknown man on the phone.
Police across the country have seen a recent increase in residents receiving phone calls claiming to be from HMRC.
Sometimes victims have been told on the phone HMRC are bringing a lawsuit against them and they need to call another number to speak to the officer dealing with the case.
PC Bernadette Lawrie, Sussex Police’s Financial Abuse Safeguarding Officer, said, “These criminals target vulnerable people and they can be very forceful in their tone of voice. Victims have been left distressed and unsure of how to deal with the callers.
“As soon as the serial numbers are provided the funds are likely to be spent straight away.
“Under no circumstances do HMRC contact an individual over the phone and demand any outstanding money, request your bank details or ever arrange collection of bank cards from your home address.
“We are asking anyone who receives a call such as this, to not respond or call another number but to call us instead.”
If you or someone you know is vulnerable and receives a call of this nature, please report it to the Police by calling 101 quoting Operation Signature.
For further information about how to help prevent frauds against vulnerable people visit the Sussex Police website www.sussex.police.uk/advice/protect-yourself-and-others/fraud/operation-signature/