Monday, 30 November 2015

Subscriptions  |  evouchers  |  Jobs  |  Property  |  Motors  |  Travel  |  Dating  |  Family Notices

Optician sees through adverts con and records trickster's call

A businessman has described how he was left angered and shaken after a conman claiming to be a policeman tried to rip him off.

Eric Hagan photo
Eric Hagan

Eric Hagan was targeted by a bogus caller who tried to dupe him into giving bank details to settle what he argued was an unpaid debt.

But the shrewd optician and his receptionist were immediately suspicious of the man and his aggressive tone and refused to be taken in by him.

Now he’s urging other businesses to be vigilant and not to be taken in by someone claiming to be a policeman, saying they are selling advertising or collecting money owed for adverts in a community magazine.

Cumbria police has echoed that plea and stressed that officers would never call asking for money.

Mr Hagan, of Hagan Opticians, was contacted at his Brampton practice on Saturday.

He has released a recording of the conversation to The Cumberland News to highlight the tactics the conman, who used the name PC Wainwright, is using.

In it, the caller says he has been in discussion with lawyers about the money he claims was owed, going on to tell him how money can be paid.

But Mr Hagan challenged him throughout the conversation, asking the man which station he was based at and for his collar number and, addressing his aggressive tone, telling him: “I think your sergeant will be very interested in talking to you.”

Speaking about the call, he said: “At the time when you’re on the phone it’s nerve-racking. I was shaking really.”

Mr Hagan believes the scam targets small businesses, possibly in rural areas.

He says the caller has quite a distinctive voice and is very insistent.

“I was very shaken. I’m angry that he targeted me and thought he could get away with it,” he added.

In Mr Hagan’s case, the caller claimed he owed an outstanding balance due for an advert in a community magazine that should be paid to a company called Community Safety (plus) Ltd.

Mr Hagan had previously been contacted on two occasions in August and December last year. He vaguely recalls being contacted in the summer but felt he had never committed to anything.

Mr Hagan said: “It was the same guy. He was very authoritative and he said it was the police. It’s possible I may have said yes I would put an advert in a magazine but he did it under false pretences because he said he was a policeman.

“I wasn’t alarmed at the time because it wasn’t an awful lot of money. Because it’s just a small amount it’s more likely that people will just pay it.”

On December 21, Mr Hagan was contacted at his Longtown practice on a busy Saturday.

“The place was heaving. I was told it was the police so I thought I better had speak to him. He caught me on the busiest day of the week and he wouldn’t let me put the phone down,” he added.

“I said; ‘I can’t pay a bill unless I have an invoice’.”

It was the same man again last week and the call had the same nature as the most recent one.

Carol Ratcliffe, who was working on reception at the Brampton branch on Saturday, became suspicious immediately. “He rang three times. I don’t like to interrupt Eric when he’s with a patient,” she said.

When she asked what it was regarding or if she could take a contact number the caller objected and said it was personal.

“I was suspicious after the first time he rang. On the third call I asked for his badge number and he said no,” she added.

Eventually Mr Hagan took the call and recognised the voice instantly.

Police warned of an advertising scam in August and said then and now that people should never give bank details to cold callers.

Anyone with concerns about a suspicious caller should end the conversation and call police on 101.


News & Star What's On search


Has the bubble burst on Black Friday?

Yes. You can get bargains every day for weeks now

No way! I bagged a load of bargains

After the manic scenes of last year it was always going to settle down

Show Result

Hot jobs
Scan for our iPhone and Android apps
Search for: