A north-east shop worker has been praised for preventing an elderly couple being scammed out of hundreds of pounds.
The couple in their 70s had gone into a shop on Buckie’s High Street and tried to buy a “significant quantity” of Google Play vouchers.
A quick-thinking worker realised something was wrong and contacted police.
It emerged the couple had been phoned by scammers and told they were in line for a windfall which could be redeemed by buying gift cards.
Officers are now investigating the incident and urged members of the public to remain on their guard.
Detective Inspector Norman Stevenson said: “Had it not been for the actions of this quick-thinking shop worker, the couple could have been several hundred pounds of out pocket with the potential to be targeted again and again.
“Sadly these scammers are becoming ever more professional and resourceful, usually targeting people that are perceived to be more vulnerable and more likely to be pressurised into thinking that the deal is real. It is callous and beyond comprehension and certainly won’t be tolerated.
“Thankfully with a bit of knowledge and awareness in this case a great deal of heartache and further financial distress has been avoided.
“I would like to thank this worker for not only stepping in but for the professional way in which she handled the situation.
“It can be upsetting finding out you have been the victim of a scam but I believe it was dealt with calmly and respectfully.
“I would like to take this chance to urge other shop workers and business owners to be vigilant and to let the police know as soon as possible if you have concerns about a customer.
“Don’t be afraid to halt a purchase and to tell that person your concerns – I’m sure their only feeling will be one of gratitude that you noticed the signs and stepped in.
“It might be that the transaction is genuine but we are becoming increasingly aware of scammers asking their victims to pay off bogus debts or refunds by the way of gift vouchers as these can be easily redeemed and sold on.
“The scammers don’t need the physical card to redeem the value and instead get victims to read out the serial code on the back over the phone to them.
“If you receive an unexpected call whereby the caller requests an advance fee in the form of any type of gift card, you should immediately terminate the call.
“I would also appeal to the public again – no matter where you live – to be on your guard of such scams and to ensure more vulnerable neighbours, family members and friends are aware of the dangers.
“In saying this people who think it will never happen to them can also fall victim as scammers are becoming increasingly believable and know what tactics to use to force their victims into acting in a way they never imagined they could.
“They can use local accents and conjure up elaborate cover stories to draw people in. In some cases they have daily contact with their victims for a period of weeks to enhance their credibility.
“Ultimately if a stranger contacts you with an offer that seems too good to be true, it’s likely that it is.
“Anyone with concerns about scam calls should contact police on 101.”