A COUPLE who claim to have fallen foul of insurance scammers have spoken out about their ordeal as a warning to others.
Pensioners George and Ann Strange, who are 68 and 65, said they have been conned out of more than £300 by a company claiming to be able to help them claw back money from being mis-sold Payment Protection Insurance.
Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) is a policy borrowers can take out when applying for a loan or credit cards.
It is supposed to repay credit if their income drops because they fall ill or lose their jobs.
Banks have been found guilty of mis-selling the policies, meaning many customers have been able to claim back years of payments.
Disabled Mr Strange said he was approached by a firm in April claiming it could help recover PPI payments.
The couple, who live in Milton, near Abingdon, were told to hand over a fee, using electronic payment vouchers, to cover the firm’s costs.
Mr Strange, a former chairman of Milton Parish Council, said: “We were told we were due to get £3,000 but we had to buy these special £300 vouchers. At the bottom of the vouchers are some numbers and the person on the phone asked for them so he could ‘validate’ them.
“When nothing happened, my wife spoke to Action Fraud, an agency dealing with fraud, and we were told the vouchers had been cashed in.
“The company then called us again and asked for more money but I refused.
“We went to Trading Standards and they are now investigating.”
Oxfordshire County Council’s Trading Standard department could not confirm whether it was looking into the pensioner’s alleged scam. However, there is advice on the Trading Standards website.
It reads: “Cold calls are often made by individuals claiming to be calling from legitimate claims management companies with promises that they can obtain money back for you in relation to banking and loans charges that you may have paid.
“However before any money can be ‘reclaimed’ for you they ask that you pay them a fee to cover their costs.
“They will often ask for this payment to be made using a money transfer service such as Western Union or Money Gram.
“It is only once this payment has been made and you don’t hear from them again that you find out that you have been scammed. All legitimate claims management companies have to be authorised to offer claims management services by the Ministry of Justice. If in doubt ask them for their authorisation number.”
Mr Strange said he was disgusted that someone would try to scam people in this way.
He said: “I’ve always been honest and hard working. I can’t afford to lose £300. I was hoping to save a little bit of money for my wedding anniversary in July.
“I’d hate anybody to go through what we have gone through. I’d advise people to be 100 per cent sure before they get into anything similar.”