Police are 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 http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/ or telephone 0300 123 2040.
Alternatively contact North Yorkshire Police on 101.
Ukash provide comprehensive crime prevention advice on their website:
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.
For further information see http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/.
12.02pm - 2 August 2011