Trading standards workers have identified a bizarre new scam which has been used on at least one elderly person.

It involves would-be fraudsters contacting potential victims claiming to be from a government department.

In one case, they contacted a pensioner in Swansea and claimed she owed £1,200 in taxes. But when she queried it, they reduced the “debt” to £500 and said she could pay by buying iTunes vouchers and handing them over to “staff” who would come to her home to collect them.

This led to the woman visiting a Mumbles shop, whose details have not been disclosed, where suspicious staff fortunately intervened, urging her to call the police.

Trading standards workers have urged people to be aware of the scam.

Councillor David Hopkins, cabinet member for commercial opportunities and innovation, praised the staff for the concern they showed.

“Scammers can be ruthless people and who knows what would have happened had they actually turned up at this lady’s home to pick up the vouchers,” said Mr Hopkins, who oversees Swansea’s trading standards department.

“In the end it was a close shave and down to the interest of shop staff concerned enough to ask questions about why an elderly person wanted to buy so many iTunes vouchers in one go.”

Mr Hopkins added: “Scammers are always coming up with new ways of trying to persuade people, especially the vulnerable, to part with their money or banking details.

“Our Trading Standards team do a huge amount of work both in raising the profile of the problem and in tracking down the perpetrators, often working closely with the police.

“Our message to people is never hand over your bank details to anyone, including your card number, account number or even information about who you bank with.

“If in doubt, ask the caller for their number and when you’ve ended the call, check them out before you ring back.”

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