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Have i just been scammed? lady came to the door asking for 3 pounds to top up her electricity key, said she lived a couple of doors down. i gave her the money just in case it was genuine. has this happened to anyone else?

Re: scam?

Yes, this is a scam which has unfortunately been running for a while. It hasn't happened to me personally but my neighbours are all too aware of it and have shared their experiences.

This is what we've since found out about prepay electricity meters:

You get a warning which informs you that you're low on credit. If you ignore that warning and your credit goes below 50p you can activate £5 of emergency credit. £5 of electricity credit will last the average household a reasonable amount of time in order to go and top up. Therefore, there should be no real reason to go door knocking for money.

We'll get this scam added to Scams under the Neighbourhood Watch group.

Re: scam?

I've often found in the past that the easiest way to suss out/scare off scammers is just to take a huge interest in the reason they're purportedly asking you for money. They're often relying on you wanting them just to go away, and just giving them money to end the fuss.

I've never experienced this particular scam before, but if a bogus "neighbour" came knocking on your door asking for money for the meter then perhaps a possible approach would be to insist on locking up your house, coming with them and putting the money into their meter yourself? If they were genuine then of course they wouldn't have any complaint with that, would they? Although I wouldn't recommend going into a stranger's house, you ultimately wouldn't need to, as it's a scam.

I've had similar in the past with someone whose car had supposedly broken down (I said I'd come with the garage with them to buy petrol) and also someone asking to use my phone in an "emergency" (I have a pocket full of change, and these's a payphone around the corner, so I'll escort you there; why don't you give me the phone number...). Amazing how quickly these people then make their excuses and vanish.

I'm half disappointed never to have experienced the infamous congirl who used to be spotted around local stations claiming to have been beaten up by a violent boyfriend. What, you've been beaten up? Well the most important thing is that we report this to the police. I insist; I'm going to ring them right now...

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