Fraudsters target elderly and vulnerable in Hatfield to steal over £38,000

Vulnerable and elderly people in Hatfield make up the 14 people who have been scammed. Picture: PXFU

Vulnerable and elderly people in Hatfield make up the 14 people who have been scammed. Picture: PXFUEL - Credit: PXFUEL

A team of fraudsters have targeted 14 elderly and vulnerable in Hatfield, Hertford and Watford to steal over £38,000 in the past few weeks.

Herts police is warning residents to stay vigilant following further reports of scam phone calls and text messages which appeared to be from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

14 elderly and vulnerable victims were contacted by the fraudsters claiming to be from HMRC over the last few weeks.

The victims were told there were outstanding debts or unpaid taxes in their names. The offenders then asked the victims to make bank transfers as payment.

The fraudsters cold call victims using a spoof number, sometimes leaving voicemail messages claiming they owe unpaid tax to HMRC.

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The victims are asked to call back on the number provided, through which they are told that there is a warrant out in their name and if they don’t pay, the police will arrest them. The victims are also sometimes contacted via text messages asking them to urgently call the number provided.

Detective inspector Rob Burns, from Hertfordshire police’s serious fraud and cyber unit, said: “Fraudsters are continuing to target elderly and vulnerable people and sometimes even use the threat of arrest to frighten them into making bank transfers, buying gift cards or vouchers.

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“It’s important to remember that government official and police officers will never contact you in these ways or ask you to buy gift cards, vouchers, withdraw money, purchase goods or hand over private banking details.

“Please help us to raise awareness by talking about this with your friends and family, especially if they are vulnerable or elderly.”

They are also asking people to follow this advice:

• HMRC will never use texts to tell you about a tax rebate or penalty or ever ask for payment in this way.

• Telephone numbers and text messages can easily be spoofed. You should never trust the number you see on your telephone display.

• If you receive a suspicious cold call, end it immediately.

If you believe that you are a victim of this scam please contact Hertfordshire Constabulary’s non- emergency number 101, using a different phone to that used to communicate with the fraudsters. If a fraud is in progress call 999 immediately.

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