POLICE today issued a warning over fraudsters pretending to offer payouts for mis-sold payment protection insurance (PPI) after a mother-of-three was scammed out of hundreds of pounds.
Amanda Slater was tricked by con artists who convinced her she was due £2170.
The 42-year-old from Drylaw was conned into buying Ukash vouchers from her local shop, which can be used to buy online goods and services, then handing over the user codes to the fraudsters.
Police warned that criminals may try to exploit awareness over the refunds, which saw banks pay out £1.9 billion to victims last year.
PPI was supposed to repay people’s loans if their income dropped because they fell ill or lost their jobs, but hundreds of thousands were mis-sold the policies.
Ms Slater, who cares for two sons aged ten and seven and a nine-year-old daughter, said: “I received the first call at about 10am on March 28 from a man calling himself Ron, who said I was entitled to a PPI refund. I don’t know how, but he knew I had an Argos card. He also knew my name and address, as well as my phone number.
“He told me I was due £2170 and said that a woman called Catherine Cox would come round at 3pm and give me the refund. I had seen the adverts about refunds on the TV and he convinced me that it was from my Argos card.
“When it got to 3pm, this woman hadn’t come so I phoned back. This man said she would be coming but told me to go to the shop and get £110 in Ukash vouchers which were needed to pay a fee. I thought it was awful strange, and I don’t know why I agreed, but I went to the shop and got them and called back. He took the codes from the vouchers and then put me through to a woman who said she was this Catherine. She said she was in my area and would be round shortly with the money.
“Then I got another phone call saying they needed £200 to pay for the tax. I went out and got the Ukash voucher and gave him the code. They said that this woman would definitely be coming round. At 5.45pm when I last spoke to him, he wanted another £200 and I said no.”
Ms Slater alerted police and her calls to the fraudster went unanswered.
She said: “I’m disgusted that they could do this. I’m a single mother who lives alone so it’s not money I can afford to lose. They seemed so convincing on the phone. I just want to warn other people not to fall for the same thing.”
A police spokesman said: “Anyone who has received a call similar to this should report the matter to police or Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.”
‘IF IT SEEMS TO GOOD TO BE TRUE, IT PROBABLY IS’
THE PPI scam is another form of so-called “advance fee fraud” where con artists ask for a payment before handing over far greater sums which never materialise.
Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud reporting centre, warns that “genuine organisations will never cold call you or contact you to ask for personal information, or ask for a payment in advance.
“If in doubt, contact the organisation directly before taking any action.”
Police also warn members of the public to never send cash via money transfer to someone that you have never met and, to always be aware that, “if the promise seems too good to be true, it most probably is”.