Warning of scam using vouchers

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RESIDENTS are being warned about a new UK cash voucher scam which has already targeted several people in the borough.

Fraudulent telemarketers are making unsolicited phone calls to consumers promising them ready cash in a lottery, sweepstake or even an insurance refund.

The fraudsters often pretend to be bank officials, working for a government body, or lottery representatives, and try to convince consumers that their prize is genuine.

To ‘release’ their winnings, victims are told they must pay an upfront fee using a UK cash voucher to allow the transaction to take place.

Using their postcode, they are then informed of where they can locally purchase a voucher, and after supplying the voucher’s serial number to the cold caller, the victims are promised personal delivery of a cheque.

But once the scammer has the serial number, they are never heard from again.

North Tyneside Council’s trading standards team is now warning people to be on their guard.

Coun George Westwater, cabinet member for regulatory services, said: “This is a new scam which often targets vulnerable residents.

“In some cases elderly victims have been cheated out of hundreds of pounds as these cold callers can be so convincing with their stories.

“It’s important that everyone is sceptical about any unsolicited offers, refunds or prizes, if it seems too good to be true, then it probably is.

“A genuine government body or lottery operator would never ask someone to pay taxes, insurance or any other fee before receiving their ‘winnings’.”

Advice from Trading Standards is never send voucher codes to anyone asking for an upfront fee.

Anyone who receives a call about an offer that sounds too good to be true should contact Trading Standards via Consumer Direct on 08454 040506.