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Last Updated: Friday, 13 April 2007, 17:05 GMT 18:05 UK
Woman loses 30,000 in prize scam
A pensioner has lost 30,000 after being conned in a scam which is spreading across the UK, police said.

The 79-year-old woman, from Shrewsbury in Shropshire, lost the money along with a second woman, from Scotland, who was conned out of 15,000.

The scam involves vulnerable or elderly victims being asked to send cheques in order to pay for the release of money from an international prize fund.

At least six women across the UK have been duped so far, police said.

Detective Constable Mark Hill, a fraud specialist with West Mercia police, said: "It is a hybrid of a prize fund or lottery scam and a pyramid scheme, with the only person benefiting being the scammer at the top.

The message is simple - if it seems too good to be true then it more than likely is
Det Con Mark Hill, West Mercia Police

"I am urging anybody who receives any correspondence, whether it be by post, phone, email or text message, not to send any money or give any bank account or personal details."

The Shrewsbury victim was contacted by letter and later by phone and told she had won a large amount of money from an international prize fund and to expect cheques for some of the money in the post.

When these cheques arrived and cleared in her account, a man, purporting to be from Canada, called her again asking her to send some money via Western Union to release the rest of the funds.

It transpired that the cheques she had been sent had come from the victim in Scotland who had been told that she was posting fees to a solicitor.

"There are so many variations on this scam and people need to be on their guard," Det Con Mark Hill added.

"The message is simple - if it seems too good to be true then it more than likely is."

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