A Sheffield taxi driver prevented an 80-year-old man from being conned out of £5,000 by fraudsters who told him he had won the lottery.
The pensioner was travelling in a taxi to his bank to withdraw £5,000 when he told the driver about his ‘win’.
It emerged that the OAP had been called by somebody who told him he had won a lottery prize and asked for his name and address for his winnings to be sent to.
A cheque for £5,000 arrived at his house, which the pensioner paid into his account, and he was then contacted again and told he had received the wrong prize and was asked to withdraw the cash and pay it into a Western Union account, with the promise that his £20,000 would follow.
The OAP was on his way to withdraw the cash when his taxi driver became suspicious and accompanied him to the bank to raise his concerns.
South Yorkshire Police said the pensioner would have lost £5,000 of his own money if the scam had not been detected because once a cheque is taken to a bank and shown as credited to the holder’s account, there is a brief period where it can be withdrawn in cash before the cheque is discovered to be false, and bounces.
PC Dale Garner said: “Had it not been for the actions of the concerned taxi driver, we would not have been aware of this situation.
“His actions meant that we could prevent the scam being carried out and the victim losing £5,000.
“The people behind this scam are preying on elderly people and taking advantage of their trust.
“The scam is based on the fact that once a cheque is taken to a bank and shown as credited to the holder’s account, there is a brief period where it can be withdrawn in cash before the cheque is discovered to be false, and subsequently bounces.
“At this point the bank would request the money back from the victim, who would have paid cash to Western Union to the perpetrator, which is untraceable, and the scam complete.
“The perpetrator in this case was contacting the victim on a daily basis giving him step by step instructions of what to do, addresses for the Western Union, down to getting a receipt from Western Union.
“The only thing that the victim knows about the perpetrator is that an 0808 false phone number was given to them.”
A South Yorkshire Police spokeswoman added: “Never give out personal details to an unknown caller including your address, bank details or other contact details.
“If you have a vulnerable relative, set up a call blocking system on their phone which prevents withheld numbers from getting through.
“Keep an eye on any elderly relative’s finances where possible.”