Derbyshire residents are being warned about a scam in which fraudsters have been offering bogus financial help to people on benefits.
A number of victims across the UK have been offered ‘free’ or ‘low cost’ government grants and loans by scammers on their doorstep, over the phone and social media.
Action Fraud – the government’s national cyber crime reporting centre – said fraudsters have been targeting people who currently receive benefits or are eligible for Universal Credit.
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In a statement, the organisation said: “The fraudster requests personal and financial information from the target and uses these details to apply for Universal Credit in the victim’s name, usually without informing the victim about it.
“The Department for Work & Pensions approves the eligible claim and transfers money to the victim’s account. The fraudster then requests that the victim transfer them a significant portion of the money as a ‘finder’s fee’.
“The victim receives a letter from DWP about their Universal Credit application and realises that they have been duped. The victim is then left to repay the total amount initially borrowed.”
One victim was offered a ‘free grant’ of more than £1,000, only to later be asked to transfer £500 to the fraudster’s account.
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Action Fraud issued the following advice to members of the public:-
*Never share your personal or financial information with someone you don’t know and trust, especially if it’s in response to an offer of ‘free money’ or a ‘free grant’.
*The DWP will never approach you in the street or ask for your personal/financial details over social media.
“If you have concerns about your benefits, you should visit www.gov.uk/contact-jobcentre-plus.