A Sunderland pensioner who was targeted by cold call scammers is warning others to be aware so they don't fall foul of the fraudsters.
Edward Gibson, who lives in Castletown, was suspicious from the moment he received a cold call from a man claiming he was from a government department on Tuesday May 7, last week.
The scammer told the 80-year-old he was due to receive a refund from the bank from interest charges made over the past 20 years and the Edward should expect a call the next day.
Edward was told to tell a second caller what the refund was for before he went through his date of birth, address and if he had any photographic ID.
The 'savvy' pensioner said: "He had the audacity to turn around and say that with me being a pensioner if anyone rings not to divulge any bank numbers."
When Edward received a call last Thursday morning, he was told he was entitled to a £3,600 refund but would need to pay a £200 solicitors fee - which he should pay by purchasing four Amazon vouchers worth £50 each at his nearest Argos store.
"I had the savvy to turn around and say there would be no one in until 4pm that day that me and my wife, Elizabeth, were going out," said Edward, who is a retired miner.
"That was so I had chance to inform the family about what was going on. I told my daughter and she called the police.
"Within ten minutes there were two CID officers were at my door. I have to stress the service I got from the officers was excellent.
"Right from the beginning I was suspicious about it, I know the government and banks don't call you up out of the blue.
"The saddest part of it is these vulnerable old dears who have got no family and no back up and when they get a cold call they keep engaged in the conversation out of loneliness."
The sophisticated scams circulate from region to region but target elderly or vulnerable people.
Superintendent Mick Paterson says courier fraud is an emerging crime which leads to people withdraw cash or buy vouchers and a man or woman, dressed as an official, knock on their door to retrieve the cash.
Before Christmas, Sunderland and Newcastle were targeted by fraudulent callers and during one week fraudsters had scammed 12 victims out of £100,000.
It was estimated that more than 17,000 calls were made in the same time period in Northumbria Police's force area.
Superintendent Paterson said: "It's an under reported crime, somebody has been victim to crime from someone who has reported being a government department so they're less likely to report it to us.
"We have three key messages, the first is for friends and family, asking if older people are getting any strange phone calls. For people in shops who may see someone coming in and buying an unusual amount of vouchers that they've not had to do before.
"The last is we work with banks and they know the signs if someone is being escorted or withdrawing a large amount of cash."