Kind-hearted householders in Buckinghamshire are being warned to beware of a new doorstep scam.
A woman in her early twenties and dressed in a fluffy pink dressing gown has conned at least four stay-at-home mums out of cash, by claiming to be locked out of her home.
She knocks on doors in the morning and says that she's recently moved to the area, but has locked herself out while taking out the rubbish.
She then asks if she can phone her 'father', who persuades the victim to hand over £45 for a taxi so that the woman can fetch a spare key.
"She said her mum worked at Toddington and had a key. The man claiming to be her dad said he was called Dave," one woman tells the Milton Keynes Citizen. "He took my details and promised faithfully to transfer the money back to me that lunchtime."
But the money never appeared in her account, and further phone calls to 'Dave' went unanswered.
Three more people in Milton Keynes have since come forward to say they have been victims of the same scam. "That £45 was my grocery money for the entire week. I'm furious," said one.
The con is a variation on the much more common request to lend someone their bus fare, which only nets the scammer a quid or two. Earlier this year, for example, West Yorkshire police were quickly alerted after a man accosted dozens of people in a supermarket car park asking for £1 for his fare home.
And, last year, police warned about a motorway con in which well-dressed people approached drivers saying they'd run out of petrol. They were offering 'gold' jewellery as security - jewellery that turned out to be worthless.
Another lucrative version has been doing the rounds in the US, but with the scammer asking for money for a locksmith rather than a taxi.
Such requests are nearly always fake. But the easiest way to be sure whether it is or not is to offer help in a different way. The offer of a lift will be welcomed by somebody that's genuinely stranded, for example, but not by a scammer.
Victims of scams and fraud
Warning over scammer in pink dressing gown
Susan Tollefsen, Britain's oldest first time mother, was scammed out of £160,000 by a fraudster she met on an online dating site. A man claiming to be an Italian gold and diamond dealer told her he was in the middle of a land deal but couldn't access cash. Tollefsen felt sorry for him and started wiring him money, eventually selling her jewellery, her flat and borrowing £32,000 from friends to give him. Read the full story here.
In March 2015 an American woman who was only identified as 'Sarah' went on the popular US television programme the Dr Phil Show to reveal she had sent $1.4 million to a man that she had never met. Although she was certain she wasn't being scammed, her cousin made her go on the programme because she was convinced it was a scam. Find out more about the story here.
Maggie Surridge employed Lee Slocombe to lay a £350 deck in her garden in March 2015. However Slocombe used a combination of lies to scam Surridge out of thousands of pounds. He told Surridge that the front and back walls were dangerous and needed rebuilding and also conned her into building a porch, all for the cost of £8,500. Read the full story here.
It's not just individuals who can be the victims of scams, big corporations can also fall foul of these fraudulent practices. In 2015 Claire Dunleavy repeatedly used a 7p 'reduced' sticker to get significant amounts of money off her shopping at an Asda store in Burslem, ending up with her paying just £15.66 for a shop that should have cost £69.02. Read the full story here.
Sylvia Kneller, 76, was conned out of £200,000 over the space of 56 years thanks to scam mail. The pensioner became addicted to responding to the fraudsters, convinced that she would one day win a fortune. Ms Kneller would receive letters claiming she had won large sums of money but she needed to send processing fees to claim her prize. Learn about the full story here.
Leslie Jubb, 103, became Britain's oldest scam victim in August last year when he was conned out of £60,000 after being sent an endless stream of catalogues promising prizes in return for purchasing overpriced goods. The extent of this con was discovered when Mr Jubb temporarily moved into a care home and his family discovered what he had lost. Find out more about this story here.
Stephen Cox won more than £100,000 on the National Lottery in 2003 but has been left with nothing after falling victim to two conmen. The 63-year-old was pressured into handing over £60,000 to the men who told him his roof needed fixing. They walked him into banks and building societies persuading him to part with £80,000 of cash while doing no work in return. See the full story here.
Last year the Metropolitan Police released CCTV footage of a woman who had £250 stolen at a cash machine in Dagenham. The scam involved two men distracting the woman at the machine, pressing the button for £250 then taking the money and running away. Read about the full story here.
Rebecca Ferguson shot to fame as a runner up on the X-Factor in 2010 but fell victim to a scam artist last year when someone she had believed to be a friend conned her out of £43,000. Rachel Taylor befriended the singer in 2012 and claimed to be a qualified accountant, so Ferguson allowed her to look after her finances. Instead of doing this Taylor stole £43,000 from the Liverpudlian singer. Read more here.
When Rebecca Lewis discovered her fiance had started a relationship with a woman he met online she packed her bags to leave. But that didn't stop her checking out the mystery woman, Rebecca quickly realised Paul Rusher's new love was actually part of a romance scam. She told Paul just before he sent the scammers £2,000 which was supposed to bring his new girlfriend to England. Find the full story here.