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Aggressive scammer leaves Wick widow distraught

By David G Scott

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AN elderly Wick woman was left distressed and angry after falling prey to an aggressive phone scammer.

The widow, who is in her eighties and did not wish to be named, contacted the police after cold reality sank in and she realised she was £300 out of pocket.

"I just can't believe I fell for it now that I think about it," she said. "I just wasn't thinking straight at the time."

It happened on Friday, February 28. Police received her complaint on the matter the following morning and said "enquiries are ongoing".

On the Friday at 2.30pm, not long after returning home from a funeral, the woman received a cold call on her landline number in which a man with an "Asian accent" claimed to be from the "Inland Revenue".

"He said that I owed £2058 and had to pay it before 4pm," she said. "Then he instructed me to call him back on my mobile."

She told the caller that there was "no way" she could pay the full amount that day and, after some haggling, he agreed to accept an initial "minimum payment of £300" from her.

The fraudster kept the woman on the line and instructed her to buy "Amazon vouchers" from the town's Co-op supermarket.

"They didn't have the vouchers there and when I told the manager what it was all about he said it sounded like a scam – I should have listened to him."

When she returned to the car, the man severely berated her for keeping him waiting so long and for telling the manager why she was buying the cards.

"When I told him about the conversation with the Co-op manager he got angry and said, 'I told you not to tell them what it was for.'"

People are urged to hang up the phone if they believe it's a scammer at work.
People are urged to hang up the phone if they believe it's a scammer at work.

The scammer appeared to have – at the very least – a rudimentary knowledge of the layout of Wick as he then told her to visit the Tesco store on the other side of town.

"Tesco had the vouchers, so I bought the £300 worth and made my way back home as instructed.

"I scratched panels on the back of the cards and read out the numbers that were revealed and that was that, basically. He said he would call back on Saturday evening to make arrangements for the rest of the money."

The woman said it gradually dawned on her that she was the victim of a scam so she called the police.

"A policewoman came over on the Saturday morning and took all the details.

"She said to me that they would investigate the matter and get back to me but I haven't heard anything more from them."

The woman thought that the aggressive attitude of the scammer had taken her by surprise and that she was feeling "vulnerable and emotional" after the funeral.

"I really can't believe I fell for it, looking back now," she said.

Inspector Alasdair Goskirk of Police Scotland said: "It's disappointing that these calls continue to take place and it saddens us that vulnerable people fall prey to these types of scams.

“We want to make sure that the people in our communities are kept safe and informed and I would urge you to speak to elderly or vulnerable family and friends to advise them of these calls and reduce the likelihood of them becoming a victim.

"Please always be on your guard if you are contacted on the telephone by anyone claiming to be from your bank or HM Revenue and Customs, especially if the call involves transferring money, providing your bank details or buying vouchers."

Various telephone scams have been reported throughout the county and members of the public are urged to be extra-vigilant with regard to elderly family and friends and also vulnerable people.

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