Police warn against cash voucher scam

2 August 2011

North Yorkshire Police is urging householders to be on their guard against cold callers who phone unprompted and offer prizes in return for cash voucher serial numbers.

A scam, which has been reported in numerous parts of the country, involves householders being called by people claiming to be from banks, financial institutions, government bodies and even lottery operators with promises of ready cash.

However, an upfront fee is invariably requested to allow the main transaction to take place.

In many instances the householder has been advised to make a payment using Ukash. This involved buying a Ukash voucher and then providing the cold caller with the voucher’s serial number.

Sainsbury’s supermarket, on Ramshill Road in Scarborough, contacted North Yorkshire Police on Wednesday 27 July 2011 after an elderly couple raised concerns about a possible scam relating to Ukash vouchers.

The couple had been telephoned at their home by an unknown cold caller. They were told they had won a prize and asked them to go to the supermarket and purchase Ukash vouchers, after which they would get a prize and rebate when they called the company back up. The elderly couple were left very upset and distressed when they realised they had been duped.

So far, this incident in Scarborough is the only one that has come to the attention of North Yorkshire Police.

If other people think they have been targeted by this or similar scams, please report the matter to the national Action on Fraud at www.actionfraud.org.uk or telephone 0300 123 2040.

Alternatively contact North Yorkshire Police on 0845 60 60 24 7.

Ukash provide comprehensive crime prevention advice on their website:

  • Do not send Ukash to anyone asking for a fee to arrange a loan. They will ask you to send them a fee in the form of a Ukash voucher code by email or over the telephone.
  • Never email vouchers or give voucher codes in full or part by email or over the telephone to anyone as you will lose your money
  • Never provide any voucher details to a third-party by any method as it should be treated just like cash
  • The Ukash product is not designed for person to person or Escrow payments; it should only be used for making payments online at Participating Ukash Merchants
  • Participating Ukash Merchants will never ask for payment to be made by sending voucher details over the telephone or by email
  • Participating Ukash Merchants will never ask for payment to be made directly to a carrier to release a shipment
  • For further information see www.ukash.com

Detective Inspector Ian Wills, of North Yorkshire Police’s Financial Investigation Unit, said: “People should always be extremely cautious about providing any information over the phone, particularly in instances where they have been cold called.

“Bogus callers often pretend to be from well-known, reputable companies or financial institutions, requesting details such as account numbers, cardholder’s names, card numbers, passwords and card expiry dates. Don’t, under any circumstances, part with the number of a cash voucher or any other personal details.

“Others more recently have requested their victims to send cash in advance, whether by voucher, cheque or cash transfer in exchange for greater riches. Do not fall for their false promises.

“Personal information should not be given, including simple information such as when you may or may not be at home. Such callers may be very convincing, but householders must keep in mind the fact that the person at the other end of the line has put time and effort into rehearsing their lines with the hope of catching them out.

“Be suspicious of all cold callers who request personal or financial information and never ever give them any security information.”

Action Fraud provides a great deal of advice in relation to all types of fraud and advice about how to avoid becoming a victim of fraudsters.

  • Do not give personal details, including banking information, to anyone either in the street, on the doorstep, over the telephone or on the internet as these details can be used to steal your identity
  • Consider registering with the Telephone Preference Service to stop unsolicited telephone calls. This is a free service. Further details can be obtained from www.tpsonline.org.uk or 020 7291 3320. Registration can be made on line or by phone 0845 070 0707
  • Consider registering with the Mailing Preference Service as this supports the right to choose the mail you wish to receive. Further details can be obtained from www.mpsonline.org.uk or 020 7291 3310. Registration can be made on line or by phone 0845 703 4599. This is a free service.
  • Consider only registering for the full register when renewing electoral registrations. Electoral registers are updated every autumn and are lists of all the names and addresses of everyone who is eligible to vote. The full register is used for elections, preventing and detecting crime and checking applications for loans or credit. To ensure your name only appears on the full register you must opt out of appearing on the edited register. To do this you should enter a ü in the ‘edited register’ box. This will prevent personal information being made available for marketing and any other commercial activities. Further information can be found on www.direct.gov.uk/en/governmentcitizensandrights
  • If you are a victim of fraudulent activity, this can be reported to Action on Fraud at www.actionfraud.org.uk or telephone 0300 123 2040
  • Refunds on services received (Council tax or Inland Revenue etc) will generally be made by the billing authority.
  • Beware of cold calls even when the caller appears to have personal information such as your address or bank account details. Legitimate callers will never be offended if you ask to call back in order to confirm their identity; when doing so always use a phone number that you’ve obtained from previous correspondence or an independent source such as phone book or an official website.
  • For further information see www.actionfraud.org.uk




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