Stevenage pensioner’s warning after con artist poses as police detective in phone scam

Don Sawyer was targeted by a phone scammer and is urging others to be on their guard.

Don Sawyer was targeted by a phone scammer and is urging others to be on their guard. - Credit: Archant

An 80-year-old man targeted by a con artist trying to steal money through a phone scam was too sharp to be taken in – but he wants to warn others to be just as vigilant.

Don Sawyer, of Lonsdale Road in Stevenage, was called last week by a man purporting to be Det Con Morris based at London’s Paddington Green police station.

“He had a cultured southern accent,” said Don.

“My first thought was that my son had had an accident, because he works in London.

“The man then told me the police had arrested a couple of suspicious characters, one of whom was trying to take money using my bank card, which had been cloned.

“He asked if I had used my card that day and I said: ‘Yes, in a bank but not in a shop’. I told him who I bank with and my suspicions first arose when he said he hadn’t heard of First Direct and asked where their branches were.”

Mr Sawyer had the presence of mind to tell the man he wanted to check he was a legitimate police officer before continuing the conversation. The crook gave him a badge number – 1577 – and told him to call the police on 101 to confirm his identity.

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“I said it would be some time until I called 101 and he put the phone down,” said Don, pictured right.

“When I did call 101 the police said there had been a lot of callers the previous day with the same information I had.

“I want to tell as many people as possible about this because if I can save one person from falling for it, it’s worth it.”

According to Herts police figures, there were 65 phone scam incidents reported across Herts in July, five of which were successful,

There were two incidents reported in Stevenage, five more in Hitchin, three in Letchworth and another in Baldock – but all of these attempts were thwarted because the message about how to deal with dodgy callers is bedding in with the public.

A Herts Police spokesman said: “While most people recognise the scams for what they are, they can have a devastating effect on people’s lives, as not only do they lose a large sum of money, their confidence and trust in people is shattered.

“The police are asking the public to make contact with their relatives, friends and neighbours to ensure as many people as possible know about the scams.”

For more about phone scams and how to avoid becoming a victim, visit