Bogus tax officials have been targeting old people across the area, Sussex Police warned today (Wednesday 8 July).
The fraudsters, who pretend to be from Revenue and Customs, have targeted potential victims in Brighton and Hove as well as the wider county over the past month.
The force said: “Elderly and vulnerable people across Sussex are again being warned to be wary of phone calls from fraudsters pretending to be from HM Customs and Revenue (HMRC).
“The bogus callers claim the targeted person is wanted for tax evasion and is arrestable on warrant unless they pay a cash sum – sometimes up to £4,000 – to clear their ‘debt’.
“Some even address victims by name or use a number that is often displayed as the official number of the agency they claim to represent to add credibility to their call.
“Police received reports of 18 such calls in Sussex during June, although thankfully only two succeeded in getting any money – a total of £4,300.
“And at the beginning of July three calls were received in the Bognor area, one of them on (Thursday) 2 July, netting £900 by phone-arranged bank transfer. The other two were unsuccessful.
“Of the 18 people who reported calls in June, 10 live alone and seven are aged over 75. Calls were received across East and West Sussex as well as Brighton and Hove.
“Genuine authorities stress that people will never be texted or telephoned by them out of the blue with requests to make payments, to log in to an online account or to disclose personal information, such as PIN numbers, passwords or bank details.
“Anyone receiving such contact is advised to hang up and report the call – preferably using a separate mobile phone or landline in case the criminals have kept the line open – to police on 101 or Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.”
Sussex Police financial abuse safeguarding officer PC Bernadette Lawrie said: “This underlines the importance of never giving out private information and reporting any suspicious activity without delay.
“We’d also ask friends or relatives of potentially vulnerable people to ensure they are fully aware and alert to the risks.”