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Scammers steal hundreds of thousands in Newbury

The Public Protection Partnership (PPP), a shared service provided by Bracknell Forest Council, West Berkshire Council and Wokingham Borough Council, is urging residents to be wary of scam calls following a total loss of over £250,000 from two Newbury and one Wokingham resident last week.

Two of the scams told the victims they were calling from HMRC and that they had thousands in unpaid taxes and fines owing to HMRC. As such HMRC were going to file a lawsuit. If the victims didn’t pay the outstanding money immediately there would be further fines and a potential prison sentence.

The third victim was scammed out of nearly £200,000 from an Amazon scam. The victim was called and told that the National Crime Agency had identified fraudulent activity on their Amazon account. They then went through a series of transactions with the fraudsters thinking they were helping the crime agency with their investigation.

PPP is reminding all residents that HMRC, the Police, your Bank, the Council, the National Crime Agency or any other official body will never ask you to transfer funds following a call of this nature. If in doubt always ring off and independently (not from a number they give you) check with that organisation or talk to your bank.

Malcolm Philips from PPP says: “People assume that it’s always the old and retired and perhaps more vulnerable people in our society that get scammed. But that’s not always the case. In this instance one victim was a professional and still very much working and another victim was someone in their twenties. People lead such busy lives and if you’re called when you’re busy, and perhaps something they say also fits in with what’s happening in your life right now, you may believe the very convincing and charming stories of the fraudsters.”

PPP would like to urge all residents to talk about these scams to others to raise awareness.

Remember under no circumstances should you withdraw or transfer funds from your account following a cold call, email or text such as above, even if it sounds genuine. You can always validate who you’re speaking to by ringing off and contacting your bank directly, or the organisation they claim to be calling from. The fraudsters may directly tell you not to do this, they’ll say the ‘fraud’ they are investigating is an inside job and by alerting the organisation you’ll be undermining their investigation. If you are told this then that’s an immediate alert that you’re being targeted by a fraudster.

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