Police Issue Warning Following Reports Of Ukash Scam
West Mercia Police are warning people to be on their guard against scams where companies offer large sums of money in exchange for Ukash vouchers.
At least nine reports have been received already this month from people across the force area who have either been victims of these scams or been targeted in some way by the fraudsters.
The scam involves people being called and offered a refund for mis-sold PPI (payment protection insurance) or a tax refund. The sums on offer are usually thousands of pounds and the caller will say that all they need in return for this is a payment via Ukash.
Victims are asked to pay a certain amount in Ukash vouchers, which can be bought from any shop with a PayPoint, and then return the call and read out the voucher number. The number is then used to redeem the cash value of the vouchers.
The companies may say they need the Ukash payment for a variety of reasons, such as to cover the costs of recovering the funds on your behalf or for delivering them by courier. They then promise that once they have redeemed the Ukash voucher, they will send someone to your house to deliver the money.
"Of course, the money never arrives," says PC Richard Waterhouse from Redditch after someone living in the town contacted him about the scam. He adds: "Thankfully, in the incident reported to me, the resident realised it was a con and did not hand over any cash in the form of a Ukash voucher to the caller - who claimed to be from the Office of Fair Trading.
"Unfortunately, others have not been so lucky: recently a Hereford resident was conned out of money after being promised a huge PPI refund by someone claiming to be from her bank in return for a £120 payment via Ukash and someone from Worcester forked out £50 after being tricked in exactly the same way.
"This has also happened to people after they have applied for loans online. An Oswestry resident lost £50 after receiving a call from someone claiming to be from the loan company who asked for a Ukash payment before they would release any money."
Although Ukash is a genuine company, it - as well as other money transfer companies - is often used by conmen to obtain funds deceitfully.
Ukash says its vouchers should only be used at genuine merchants listed on their website and that people should never give Ukash details via email or telephone.
PC Waterhouse says: "All we are asking, is that people are wary of calls promising thousands of pounds in return for money through Ukash. If you get a call like this, then it is likely to be a scam.
"As with most fraudsters they sound very plausible, especially to our more vulnerable elderly residents. Genuine offers of such amounts would almost certainly be in writing, so simply hang up and under no circumstances pay any money via Ukash - no matter how tempting the offer."
If you believe that you are a victim of fraud you can report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. Police can also be informed on 101.