‘SMARTLY-dressed’ fraudsters are targeting families on benefits in a new scam, the Citizens Advice has warned.
The conmen, claiming to be from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) prey on people as they leave from job centres, with the promise of offering ‘government loans’.
Instead, the victims are unwittingly signed up to universal credit with the scammers applying for an advanced payment which is paid to the person’s bank.
The cheats then charge the victims for the ‘service’ which is normally half of the payment advance - at an average cost of about £400.
The warning about the scam has been issued by staff at the Gosport branch of Citizen Advice who said the area hasn’t yet been targeted, with most crimes reportedly taking place in the north of England.
However, staff want people to be aware of the con locally to avoid falling victim to it.
In a statement, the organisation said: ‘A number of cases reported to Citizens Advice involve people being approached in their home and in public - especially outside job centres and in pubs - by smartly-dressed individuals targeting those on benefits and offering them “government loans”.
‘The individual does not realise they have been scammed or signed up to universal credit until their legacy benefit has stopped being paid, and the person approaches their local jobcentre where they are informed they have moved onto universal credit, with an advanced payment to repay.’
For advice on universal credit, call 0800 144 8 444 or visit citizensadvice.org.uk