Family distraught as pensioner loses thousands in Amazon voucher scam

The family of an elderly man living in the Skegness area say they feel helpless because they have been unable to stop him losing thousands of pounds in a scam involving the purchase of Amazon vouchers.
Amazon gift cards are being used in one of the latest scams to be revealed in the Skegness area.Amazon gift cards are being used in one of the latest scams to be revealed in the Skegness area.
Amazon gift cards are being used in one of the latest scams to be revealed in the Skegness area.

Mike Fahy estimates over the past 18 months his father-in-law, who is not being named to protect his identity, has given scammers over £35,000 - and the family are now reaching out to Lincolnshire Police for help because they are unable to convince him to stop.

The scam involves buying Amazon vouchers and giving the codes to the scammers to release PPI money, which never materialises.

"We can't convince my father-in-law it's a scam - they are so convincing and he believes them," Mr Fahy told the Standard.

"It's almost like it has become an addiction and we just don't know what else to do other than to appeal to Lincolnshire Police for help.

"The scammers are telling my father-in-law that he has PPI but to release the cash they need him to buy hundreds of pounds worth of Amazon vouchers and call them with the code.

"They obviously have their own accounts and the money goes in there when they are called with the voucher codes.

"He hasn't seen a penny from them yet but he still believes he will get it and we desperately need help to convince him."

Mr Fahy wants to raise public awareness so others are not caught out. He outlined the scam as follows:

1 The scammers/fraudsters contact the victim to sell life assurance and funeral plans to them on the pretence of putting financial security in place for their loved ones by fraudulently using the name of a genuine independent financial adviser. This enables the fraudsters to set up policies with reputable insurers. The commission on these products is paid for up front with Amazon vouchers.

2 The scammers then continue to befriend the victim and 'coerce and groom' them over a period of time leading up to promises of cash via PPI claims.

3 The scammers then proceed to explain to the victim that in order to receive the cash that is waiting for them all they have to do is go and purchase Amazon gift vouchers (or Google vouchers) for hundreds of pounds.

4 Once the vouchers have been purchased the victim is asked to scratch off the covering to reveal the authentication code and read it over to them, all the while reassuring the victim that their money is on the way to them either in cash or will be transferred direct in to their bank account.

"Of course, the money is neither delivered nor transferred," said My Fahy.

"The scammers contact the victim again with the same promises and the cycle repeats itself resulting in many thousands of pounds being lost.

"My concerns were raised initially with the Lincolnshire Police back in the spring 2019 but I cannot find the crime reference number.

"I thought that Graham had accepted that he had been the victim of a fraud but in January this year I found out otherwise.

"In the past eight weeks the scammers have escalated the practice by contacting my father-in-law and extracting ever more cash from him.

"He is at the point now where his savings are about to be exhausted. Unfortunately, both back in Spring 2019 and now, my father-in-law was and is

not prepared to make a complaint because he is under the mistaken belief that these people are genuine."

" I have visited the local retailers where my father-in-law purchases his Amazon vouchers - such as Morrisons, Tesco and Wilkos - to seek their help by asking them not to sell the vouchers to him.

"Each of those stores have stepped up to the plate and assured us that they will do their level best to deny him access to Amazon vouchers.

"In fact, during our discussions, it soon became quite apparent that this scam is a widespread problem in the Skegness area, so much so, that the stores are now putting in place restrictions on the value of vouchers that can be purchased by older citizens who they suspect, or quite frankly know, are being duped.

"These scammers are clearly conducting criminal activities (fraud) on a large scale.

"As much as anything I want to raise awareness of this scam so others are not caught out and to urge people with elderly parents to keep an eye on their finances."

A spokesman for Amazon told the Standard they were sorry to hear about the scam. He said the company always stresses that customers should never use Amazon Gift Cards for payment outside of Amazon and they should never use gift cards for other retailers and brands outside of the intended brand.

Guidelines to protect customers can be found by visiting www.amazon.com/giftcardscams.We also spoke to Lincolnshire Police. Inspector Jacky Barnsley of Lincolnshire Police, said: "While we cannot comment on individual cases and live investigations, we make every effort to keep our residents safe from scams and to bring those responsible to justice.

“Scammers look to target the most vulnerable in our community although anyone can be a victim as scams constantly change and become more sophisticated.

“If you are contacted seemingly out of the blue, please be on your guard and don’t divulge any personal information. Never be rushed and get a second opinion from a friend or family member if you are unsure. If you call 101, we will help you or will record a crime if one has taken place.

“To protect yourself and ensure others don’t fall foul of scams please see our top tips at https://www.lincs.police.uk/reporting-advice/fraud-and-scams/.”

Several stores were also contacted but did not respond by the time of going to press.