Scammers are attempting to defraud elderly and vulnerable people in Kent by getting them to hand over gift voucher codes.
The fraudsters are reportedly calling, texting and sending emails asking potential victims to go to a shop and buy an Amazon voucher. They are then being asked to call the suspects back and provide them with the serial number on the card. This is so that the suspects can access the value of the card and spend the money online.
More than 20 incidents were reported to Kent Police in February and March. Victims from towns including Ramsgate, Maidstone, Rochester, Sittingbourne, Chatham, Sheerness, Romney Marsh, Ashford, Gravesend and Herne Bay have all been targeted.
Those people who have reported incidents say that callers ask them to purchase Amazon vouchers from a local shop or supermarket within a set timeframe. In most cases victims have been told they owe money to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs for unpaid taxes or have in some way broken the law and will be arrested if they do not carry out the task.
Detectives are concerned that those most vulnerable in our society might be convinced that the calls are genuine and through fear carry out the purchases.
Detective Sergeant Marc Cananur from the Serious Economic Crime Unit said: “Fraudsters are deliberately targeting vulnerable people and convincing them to go and buy these vouchers.
“Whilst their calls may seem credible as they claim to work for HMRC or the police, they are not. No police officer would ever call and ask a member of the public do to this so please check the number of the person calling and report any concerns straight away.
“We are working with stores around the county who sell these vouchers and asking them to challenge anyone purchasing a voucher for an extremely large amount of money, just to ensure they are not going to be a victim of fraud. On Monday 2 March 2020 one person was identified as a victim and stopped from buying a voucher worth £1,500 as a result of this initiative.
“Even if on the face of it the caller sounds genuine, do not be afraid to hang up the phone and use another phone line to call the company or organisation to be sure. Please also do everything you can to support your family, friends and neighbours with our advice on how to protect yourself from fraud.”
For more details visit https://www.kent.police.uk/advice/advice-and-information/fa/fraud/