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Scam victim's sleepless nights

A series of harassing phone calls from a scam artist claiming to be a tax office representative has left a Harmony Village independent living resident frightened and unable to sleep.

ALEXANDRA BOLKAS March 22, 2014 4:55am

Warning others: Harmony Village independent living living units manager Mary Pell wants people to be wary of scammers targeting vulnerable people, particularly the elderly.


The resident, who did not want her name published, said the phone calls began on Tuesday last week when a man told her she had accumulated $7600 in tax refunds.

‘‘I said to him, ‘That’s strange, they usually send a cheque’,’’ she said.

‘‘He told me that Mr Abbott had changed the system and he had been put in charge of the refunds.’’

The man then told her to go to the post office to collect a Western Union money transfer form for her to send back with her personal details.

Initially unaware of the scam, the resident went to the post office that day to collect the form.

Not long after she returned home from the post office, the phone rang again.

‘‘He said he’d like to get the form filled out today and was really pushing it,’’ she said.

‘‘That’s when it got a bit suss — why would he want to have the form so quickly?’’

The next morning the scammer rang again and when she told him she would not send the form his tone became aggressive.

‘‘He said you’re a nothing but a liar and a dog and went on a rant,’’ she said.

‘‘At the end he said, ‘Don’t forget I know where you live’.’’

The resident and her son reported the man to the police, but she has had two sleepless nights since the calls.

‘‘It’s very scary — our units have our name plaque on the door and I went and took that out and replaced it with a blank one,’’ she said.

She said she contacted The News to warn others of the scam.

‘‘I’m a very thick-skinned woman, but with people who have Alzheimer’s or something they’d be petrified,’’ she said.

Harmony Village independent living units manager Mary Pell said it was the third time scammers had targeted residents.

‘‘It’s happens quite a bit — we’ve had people knocking on doors wanting to sell cheap electricity and asking them for their pensioners’ card details,’’ Mrs Pell said.

‘‘I’m sure it’s happening a lot in the community if it’s happening with us.

‘‘The sad thing is they target these people because they are vulnerable.’’

Shepparton police Sergeant Darren Wagstaff said scams targeting the elderly and vulnerable happened frequently, particularly over the phone or via email.

‘‘With scamming phone calls they pick phone numbers at random — they have no idea who they are ringing,’’ Sgt Wagstaff said.

He said people should be wary if asked for bank details of any kind.

‘‘Professional institutions don’t conduct business over the phone or by email — it’s usually in person,’’ he said.

He said people experiencing a scam should contact the police.

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