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Scam warning after Islington pensioner turns the tables on conmen

An Islington pensioner, who turned the tables on a group of conmen, has called for other residents to be aware of scams that can cost people their savings and their peace of mind.
 
The north London resident, in her 80s, has spoken out to help improve public awareness of scammers, con artists, and fraudsters, to coincide with Scams Awareness Month this month.  
 
She received a call from a man claiming to be a police officer, who convinced her that her card had been cloned and that she needed to withdraw £2,000 in cash to help with the ‘investigation’. 
 
After she withdrew the money, the fraudster called her and arranged for a supposed ‘plain-clothes police officer’ to collect it from her. 
 
Her suspicions were aroused after they arrived and took her money, but did not provide her with a receipt. She alerted the police.
 
Later, she received another call from the man impersonating a police officer, who told her they would need another £2,000 to catch the suspect. She agreed and arranged for them to come round and collect more money. 
 
Before they arrived, she phoned the actual police who waited at the scene and arrested two suspects when they turned up, and who then led police back to a group of suspected conmen. 
 
Fortunately, the resident has now recovered all of the money she lost in the scam after her relative contacted her bank. 
 
She has since received similar calls but now knows to either screen her calls before answering or to hang up. 
 
Islington Council’s Director of Public Protection, Jan Hart, said: “Thanks to this lady’s quick thinking two suspects were caught, but such stories don’t always end well. On average, victims lose around £2,500.” 
 
“Scammers and fraudsters are predatory criminals who prey on vulnerable and older people – often our family and friends – making their lives miserable and potentially leaving them in financial ruin. 
 
“Fraudsters use a range of sophisticated techniques, making it tricky to identify crimes as they are happening. 
 
“The best thing for residents is to learn how to spot a scam and report it to stop it. The quickest and easiest way to do this is to call the 24/7 ASB reporting line 0207 527 7272.”
 
As part of Scam Awareness Month, Islington Council and Citizens Advice Bureau staff will be in different parts of the borough, providing local residents with free information on how to spot and stop scams.
 
Events at Nags Head and Archway are planned for later in the month.
 
Find out more about how to identify scams – visit: http://www.islington.gov.uk/scams or search for #scamaware on Twitter.

For more information contact:

Eugene Grant
Senior Media Officer
0207 527 2530
eugene.grant@islington.gov.uk

Notes to editors

National research by Citizens Advice shows scammers use a range of tactics to get people to part with their cash – including vishing whereby scammers cold-call people in a bid to get their bank details, and offers of fake services, such as telling people their computer has a virus which they can fix remotely.
 
Investment scams carried the highest price tag, with people investing in fake diamonds or bogus stocks and shares, losing of on average £20,000 each. 
 
Eight common scams reported to Citizens Advice are:
 
• Investment - victims are persuaded to invest money into fake ventures and are then unable to get their money back. 
 
• Fake services - people are offered a service for a fee, only to find the service isn’t real or doesn’t exist at all. Examples include, offers to fix computers remotely and fake invoices for advertising.
 
• Vishing - con-artists cold-call people pretending to be a legitimate company, asking for credit or debit card  details - for example on the pretence that they need to refund overpaid bills
 
• Doorstep selling - victims are offered goods door-to-door or from the back of a van, which are likely to be counterfeit. Fraudsters selling mattresses, “fresh” fish and cleaning products were all reported to Citizens Advice.
 
• Upfront payment or fee - fraudsters ask for a payment in advance for a service or product that never materialises, such as asking for a fee to get a loan, or to pay for a training course to secure a job.
 
• Premium rate texts - victims inadvertently agree to receive premium rate texts about games or competitions, usually costing around £4 each.
 
• Counterfeit goods - people buy goods at marketplaces or online that turn out to be counterfeit or even stolen. Common products include cigarettes, shoes and clothing, and tickets for events.
 
• Goods not received - people place orders for goods which don’t arrive. Scams are often carried out through social media and online auction sites.
 
On average, victims lose around £2,500.