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Police are releasing details of a scam that is targeting people in the Newcastle and Gateshead areas.

On January 26 officers received a report that an elderly woman in Gateshead had almost been conned out of hundreds of pounds by fraudsters.

The victim in this incident visited her bank to ask them for advice when she became suspicious and thankfully they were able to help her and contact the police before any money was handed over.

The offenders cold called the woman over the phone and told her they were from ‘The Ministry of Justice’ and that they had a cheque for her for unclaimed PPI compensation.

They told the woman that they have officers in the area who can hand deliver the cheques to them but that they first have to purchase iTunes cards, to cover the tax.

If a victim falls for the scam and buys iTunes cards, they are then told to call the ‘Ministry of Justice’ back and pass on serial numbers. This credit is then stolen and sold on, leaving the victim hundreds of pounds out of pocket.

The fraudsters appear to know peoples’ names, numbers and postcodes but have no further details. They sound genuine and sound like they are calling from a call centre environment.

Police are urging people to be aware of the scam and to spread the word about it to friends and family, especially elderly or more vulnerable people.

Never give any personal details out over the phone to anyone and if any business or organisation contacts you requesting your private details (like your bank details) then hang up and report it to police or a family member.

Further advice is available from the police or Action Fraud tel 03001232040. 

For up to date advice members of the public can contact Action Fraud – the UK’s national, government led, fraud reporting centre which offers advice, support and prevention advice on fraud including fraud types, trends and current national scams – www.actionfraud.co.uk – access via Northumbria Police web site – Action Fraud. 

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