Elderly Royston lady told she would be arrested in phone scam

An elderly lady has been targeted by phone scammers in Royston. Picture: Daniel Wilson

An elderly lady has been targeted by phone scammers in Royston. Picture: Daniel Wilson - Credit: Daniel WIlson

An elderly widow from Royston has said she was left distressed and shaken after being targeted by phone scammers who told her there was a warrant out for her arrest.

The lady, who is in her 70s and does not want to be named, said the incident occured when she was at home alone and got a phone call about income tax.

She told the Crow: “It was an normal day at home, the phone rang and it said I had to press number one so I did, and a lady who spoke with an accent said there was a warrant out for my arrest for owing income tax.

“She said if I gave her my national insurance number and date of birth she could tell me more.”

“I said ‘can you tell me more to start with and then I’ll see how I feel about giving you those particulars’.”

The grandmother, who has health problems, knew what the scammer was saying couldn’t be true because she had just had a tax rebate. But she said the tone of the woman on the phone was threatening, so she was frightened.

She said: “I was angry, worried and scared. I was thinking how the hell can this be happening? I’ve never been arrested in my life. I think it was scare tactics more than anything.

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“I wasn’t prepared to give her my details, but she kept on. What good would my national insurance number and date of birth be to stop me getting arrested? Maybe it would have escalated to bank details next.

“At one stage she said ‘so you’re quite happy for them to knock on your door and arrest you’. I said ‘well yes, because they perhaps they’ll tell me why’. I then told her that I didn’t wish to continue with this conversation and hung up.

“It was her bad luck to choose me when I know I don’t owe tax.

“To others who this may happen to, I would say hang up the phone. There are people who are gullible and can get taken in by it, it was a shock to me and I like to think I’m quite with it.

“Even when I hung up, I sat there shaking for two hours thinking about it. I had to make myself a cup of tea to calm down.

“It made me wary when I went out for about a week.

“I’ve had a narrow escape. I don’t like putting the phone down on people because I don’t want to be rude, but when it comes to something like this you have to.”

An HMRC spokesperson said: “HMRC takes security extremely seriously. We are aware that some people have received telephone calls from individuals claiming to be from HMRC. We have a well-known brand, which criminals abuse to add credibility to their scams.

“These scams often involve people receiving a call out of the blue and being told that HMRC is investigating them. If you can’t verify the identity of the caller, we recommend that you do not speak to them, instead forward suspicious emails claiming to be from HMRC to phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk and texts to 60599, or contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 to report any suspicious calls or use their online fraud reporting tool.”