Horsforth woman speaks out after father conned out of £140

First published in News Wharfedale Observer: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

A woman is warning people to be on their guard against a Sky TV box insurance scam after her elderly father was conned.

Janice Smith is speaking out after her 81-year-old father, who has Alzheimer’s disease, was persuaded to sign over £140 to a company offering to sell insurance for his Sky box.

But she said the family had learned the company had no connection to the satellite TV company, and attempts to contact it had failed.

Janice, from Horsforth, said that when she contacted his bank to query the payment which appeared on his statement, she was told it was insurance to protect his Sky box, and she was put through to the bank’s fraud department.

She said it was obvious from the questions she was asked that the bank had come across the scam before.

But she added: “It is not a fraud as such because he gave his money willingly and so he has lost that money.”

Now she is warning other people to beware of unscrupulous insurance companies claiming to be from Sky.

“I want to warn other people, especially the elderly and the vulnerable, these companies give the impression of being from Sky but they are not,” she said.

“My father gave his card details over the phone so we have had to have a new card issued, and there is no way we can get his money back.”

Another Horsforth resident, who asked not to be named, was also approached by a company purporting to be from Sky and urging her to make an immediate insurance payment over the phone.

She was suspicious and checked with Sky who told her she already had cover provided as she was within the first year of her contract.

She said: “I was very nearly taken in especially as the caller knew I had recently had a Sky box installed and he started by asking me whether I was happy with it.

“When I thought back to what he had actually said I’m not sure if he even gave a company name but he gave the impression that he was with Sky.

“It’s easy to see how elderly people in particular can fall prey to this type of con.”

On its website Sky says: “If a company other than Domestic & General has contacted you trying to sell you extended warranty then please email the details to Sky.”

Last year the company took an insurance firm to the High Court, where a judge ruled it had used “blatant lies” in its sales tactics. The firm has since been placed into liquidation.

A spokesman for Sky said: “We are aware that some warranty companies are passing themselves off as being linked to Sky.

“We now alert our customers to their presence in the help centre section of our Sky.com website and provide customers with clear guidance on the measures they can take if they are contacted by one of these companies.

“We don’t think it’s acceptable to treat customers this way.

“We took a company called Satellite Direct UK all the way to the High Court and won our case. The judge ruled that one of the sales tactics used by the company was a “blatant lie”.

“We continue to track activities of other companies and investigate customer feedback in instances of passing off or misselling so if any customers believe that they have been misled, we’d like to hear from them.”

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