Hitchin woman’s quick thinking foils con callers but warns others to be aware

PUBLISHED: 08:31 28 January 2016

Joy Bennett with the scam letter and her two dogs, Digger and Hugo

Joy Bennett with the scam letter and her two dogs, Digger and Hugo

Archant

A Hitchin woman’s quick thinking helped her thwart phone scam callers – and now she’s warning others to be aware of the fraud after others in the town were also targeted.

Joy Bennett’s caller claimed to be acting for a fake government department called the Claims Advisory Service – and similar calls have been made to other numbers in the town.

She was told she was eligible for a chunky cash rebate relating to bank charges – but only if she first stumped up an admin fee of 10 per cent of the total she was ‘owed’.

Joy told the Comet: “It was a London number, they said I was entitled to £3,600 – but only if I paid them a 10 per cent charge first.

“A man with a strong Indian accent claiming to be called Terence Robinson said I had to pay the cash to them through a MoneyGram transfer at the post office.

“I played along and went up to Highbury Post Office – but only to see if anyone else had been through a similar experience.

“They told me at least five or six other people had been contacted this month and asked to pay cash through a MoneyGram transfer, too.

“They’re very good and stopped anyone from paying a penny.

“I then went back home, and called this so-called government department back – but this time with police officers next to me.

“The fraudster said: ‘Have you got the receipt number of the payment?’ I pretended to get confused and gave them a false number.”

On realising the number Joy gave him didn’t work, he then asked her for the exact exchange rate she was supposed to have received for her £360. Quick-thinking Joy kept them talking while the police officer told her the correct figure in Indian rupees for £360 – which then satisfied them.

Joy then handed the phone over to the police officer, and when he started asking questions the caller cut the line – but “not before being very rude to the nice officer,” she said.

She added: “I want to raise awareness of this scam. I knew straight away, but older people may be taken in by someone pretending to be from the government.”

Highbury Post Office manager Peter Day said: “We knew it was a scam and no-one has lost any money.

“We want to stop anyone in Hitchin falling victim.”

For more information about how to spot scams and how to avoid them visit www.herts.police.uk/PhoneScams.

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