Fraudsters have been posing as Money Saving Expert founder Martin Lewis to con elderly and vulnerable people out of thousands of pounds.
The conmen have been calling victims in Oxfordshire and tricking them into handing money over to a courier sent to their home.
As well as claiming to be Mr Lewis, the fraudsters have told victims they are from the victim’s bank, the police or are a fraud investigator.
In 13 incidents in the Abingdon area since mid-December, it is believed more than £150,000 has been stolen.
Mr Lewis said he was "deeply offended" that scammers had tried to "besmirch the trust held in the work I and MoneySavingExpert.com do".
"We never call, knock on your door, take money, or ask for your password," he said. “We try to give you information.
"Anyone purporting to be from MoneySavingExpert.com is a liar and you should immediately understand that you are talking to someone who is trying to scam, mislead, or defraud you."
The scam devised by the fraudsters often involves:
- Cold calling victims and saying they have spotted a fraudulent payment in the victim’s account, or that they need the victim’s help investigating fraudulent activity at their bank.
- Suggesting the victim hangs up and rings the bank or police back straight away, but they don’t disconnect the call, meaning when the real phone number is dialled, they are still speaking to the fraudster.
- The fraudsters send a courier to collect cash from the victim’s home, or to take the victim to their bank to withdraw the money.
Thames Valley Police have urged people speak to elderly friends and relatives about the risk of fraudsters, and prompt cards have been created explaining the dangers.
Detective Inspector Paul Powell said: “This is a despicable crime in which a fraudster takes advantage of their victim’s trust to gain access to their life savings.
"A senior police officer or a bank would never send a courier to anybody’s home address to collect money.”
Anyone suspecting they could be a victim of this type of fraud should report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.