Man tricked out of £1,600 in phone scam

POLICE are warning people to be on their guard for phone scams after a man in Bedlington was conned out of £1,600.

Officers have received three reports of suspicious calls in the space of a week.

Two were from hoaxers claiming to be working for Barclays Bank.

They told the people they rang that they were entitled to money from old loans and tried to persuade the callers to give them bank details and other personal information.

Neither gave any details or had any cash stolen, but another man was not so lucky.

He was called by someone claiming to be from the Ministry of Justice and told that he was owed thousands of pounds, subject to payment of an administrative fee.

The fraudster’s victim was tricked into paying £1,600 into a bank but did not receive the cheque he was promised.

Another caller rang a house in Morpeth claiming to be from a company handling claims on behalf of a bank, offering a £3,160 insurance payout upon receipt of a £316 administration fee, to be collected within the hour.

Investigations by Northumberland County Council trading standards officers revealed the call had come from outside the country despite the caller claiming to be based in Lancashire.

Inspector Karen Murray, of Bedlington’s neighbourhood policing team, said: “Our advice is never to give out your bank details to anyone you don’t know over the phone, in person or on the internet, no matter how genuine the caller seems.

“If you’re in any doubt, take the caller’s name and organisation and check their credentials.

“The organisation will be able to tell you whether the call is genuine and, if necessary, provide you with a letter of confirmation and proof of identity.”

Judith Shewan, urban team manager for the council’s trading standards department, added: “No reputable company will ask you to hand over cash before they will send a cheque.

“People should be aware these calls are happening now in Northumberland and be on their guard.”