The high-pressure tactics used by smooth-talking conmen in Tenerife to fleece thousands of elderly British holidaymakers in credit card scams can be revealed today.
MailOnline witnessed gangs of suspected fraudsters deliberately targeting older Britons while ignoring younger tourists on a promenade on the south of the island.
Scores of British pensioners have fallen victim to the fraud which typically involves them being offered a laptop, iPad, phone or a similar device for an attractive price.
The scam takes place when fraudsters working in souvenir shops use intimidating tactics to get their victims into the shop.
Once inside, they typically offer the vulnerable elderly tourist a device for a cut price. They ask to take a deposit of say 30 Euros to be taken on a debit or credit card – but when the customer inserts their card the unscrupulous store staff clone the card or steal their bank details.
MailOnline witnessed gangs of suspected fraudsters deliberately targeting older Britons while ignoring younger tourists. Pictured is a suspected scammer (right) approaching a couple in Tenerife
Scammers use high-pressure tactics in Tenerife to fleece thousands of elderly British holidaymakers in credit card scams. Pictured is one of the suspected conmen, centre
Scores of British pensioners have fallen victim to the fraud which typically involves them being offered a laptop, iPad, phone or a similar device for an attractive price. Many are approached along this bustling promenade at the popular holiday getaway
Often they ask the holidaymaker to return to pay the balance – and ‘accidentally type in a far higher amount before asking the tourist to type in their pin without offering a receipt to confirm the purchase price.
Other versions of the fraud involve the scammers stealing PIN numbers or later charging a far higher fee than agreed using bogus bank debit forms.
Bridget Manning was told that for just £150 she could get her hands on a ‘top-of-the-range’ tablet computer. Instead she was fleeced for £2,128
Pensioners are often targeted on the last day of their holiday and typically only find out they have been conned weeks later when they check their bank or credit card statements.
Last week the Daily Mail told how widow Bridget Manning, 84, was offered a ‘top of the range tablet’ for £150 but found her two bank accounts had been emptied of £2,128 after she returned home to Warwickshire.
Retired police superintendent Ged Varley, 76, volunteered to pose as a potential victim so MailOnline could secretly film suspected conmen putting him under ‘intense pressure’ to hand over his credit card details.
He said: ‘They might as well have sat me down and put a spotlight in my face. It was an onslaught. They were so determined.
‘But with my police background as a detective I can smell a scam a mile away and I wasn’t giving in.’
The former Lancashire Police detective from Rochdale was approached as he and his wife Sue, 79, rode their mobility scooter on Tenerife’s Playa de las Americas.
Retired police superintendent Ged Varley, 76, volunteered to pose as a potential victim so MailOnline could carry out its investigation into the scam
The former Lancashire Police detective from Rochdale was approached as he and his wife Sue, 79, rode their mobility scooter on Tenerife’s Playa de las Americas
The retired police officer posed as a potential victim so MailOnline could secretly film suspected conmen putting him under ‘intense pressure’ to hand over his credit card details.
Ged said the suspected conmen were relentless. Speaking of them, he added: ‘They might as well have sat me down and put a spotlight in my face. It was an onslaught. They were so determined.’ He is pictured, centre, with his wife, left, while being secretly filmed talking to one of the suspected scammers, right
‘I knew straightaway that it was a scam, but I thought I’d go along with it and see how it operated. I went inside and he showed me a tablet and took me through how it worked and whatever.
‘Then he said there was a better one which had more apps on it and was better value. I thought if I can get a tablet and a keyboard which he was offering for €30, then that was not a bad deal.
‘I tried to pay in cash, but they insisted I used my debit or credit card. But I was not falling for it.
‘But I could not get away. I was there for more than an hour at the back of the shop and there were eventually three guys giving me the hard sell. I could see why people have given in.
‘I tapped in the wrong PIN code deliberately three times on their credit card machine and it was rejected. They looked absolutely crestfallen.
‘But they were not giving up. And I was surprised when they accepted my €30 cash and then gave me the tablet and a keyboard.’
The conmen told him to return the next day with the €39 which he owed for the upgraded tablet.
They told him to pay the final amount with a card after he earlier apologised for forgetting his PIN due to ‘having a senior moment or two’.
He added: ‘They allowed me to walk out with the tablet because they thought I would return the next day and pay by credit card and then they could carry out their sting.
Pensioners are often targeted on the last day of their holiday and typically only find out they have been conned weeks later when they check their bank or credit card statements. Pictured is a view of Playa de Las Americas on the Island of Tenerife which is a hotspot for the con
Ged, 76, and his wife Sue are pictured attempting to avoid paying for a tablet with a suspected conman
Ged Varley and his wife Sue were allowed to leave the store with their tablets after failing to give the correct PIN for their credit cards. The conmen told them to return the next day with the €39 which he owed for the upgraded tablet – where he suspects they would have then continued with their sting to fleece him of thousands in a credit card scam
The con typically works by offering Britons who are on the last day of their holiday a great deal on a laptop, iPad, phone or a similar device. But when it comes to payment via debit or credit card, the store owners distract the buyers while they either clone their card or charge a far higher fee than agreed. Pictured is The Travellers Rest in Playa de Las Americas
‘They want to know when you are leaving, so that they can time when they take the money and you can’t return to the shop to argue it out.
‘It is a terrible way to rob people. Elderly people who may not be that savvy about things like online fraud and how it works.
Retired travel agent and former church pastor Allan Smith (pictured), 80, lost nearly £4,000 in January after being lured into a shop with the offer of a cheap tablet
‘I can’t believe that the Tenerife officials have allowed this to carry on. It’s just ridiculous and cruel on people who have spent their entire lives working for a living and just want to enjoy a bit of sunshine, their savings and retirement.’
MailOnline also spoke to other pensioners who had fallen victim to fraudsters on the Spanish island.
Retired travel agent and former church pastor Allan Smith, 80, lost nearly £4,000 in January after being lured into a shop with the offer of a cheap tablet.
A gang left him bewildered and confused after nearly two hours of sales talk, and he was only allowed to leave after they persuaded him to sign a piece of paper.
The document turned out to be a banker’s draft to give the shop £2,700 and they also scammed his debit card for a further £1,200.
Pictured: an electronic tablet and keyboard case that was sold to Ged Varley and his wife Sue former superintendent Ged Varley and his wife Sue came under pressure to buy a electronic tablet at Playa de Las Americas on the Island of Tenerife and hand over credit card details
A street seller and police car pictured at Playa de Las Americas on the Island of Tenerife as MailOnline investigates credit card fraud on the Spanish island of Tenerife
Thousands of British tourist visit Tenerife each year, with many taking time during their holiday to explore the island’s array of shop (pictured)
Mr Smith was even persuaded to withdraw €400 from an ATM with one of the men standing over his shoulder.
He said: ‘My wife Roselyn and two friends were waiting, and at first it was all very pleasant as they gave them drinks and were ever so polite.
‘I had been interested when they said they could sell me a tablet which could get TV anywhere in the world. I told them that I was on a cruise for my 80th birthday and they said I could watch TV on the ship.
‘I agreed to pay £129 on my debit card for the tablet. But they made me sign a piece of paper and I wasn’t sure what it was.
‘They had kept me talking for such a long time that I felt sorry for my wife and our two friends who had been waiting so long, but I don’t know why I agreed to go to the ATM as well.
‘It might have been because I felt I couldn’t be with them any longer and we had to get back to the ship.
Some victims visiting Playa de Las Americas (pictured) have been conned out of thousands of pounds by scammers
Conmen often pressure their victims into buying electrical goods using their credit or debit cards – but the scammers then steal thousands of pounds from the victims. Pictured: people enjoying a drink in Playa de Las Americas
A general view of Playa de Las Americas on the Island of Tenerife as MailOnline investigates credit card fraud on the Spanish island. The con typically works by offering Britons who are on the last day of their holiday a great deal on a laptop, iPad, phone or a similar device
‘These men were all very well spoken, but they put me under such duress that I got confused and fell into their trap.’
Mr Smith checked his statements and found the money taken from his credit card and bank account after another tourist warned he had been scammed.
Barclaycard and First Direct Bank refunded most of the money after the Financial Ombudsman stepped in.
He added: ‘I haven’t got the €400 back because I went to the ATM and put my number in, and I am told that is down to me, but I still don’t understand that as it was the same people.
‘The whole thing has been a very distressing and terrible experience. People need to be very careful when using credit cards in these type of shops.’
Retired health and safety executive Alan Bywater, 77, from Smethwick, West Midlands, lost £3,640 after agreeing to buy a tablet for €115 and being conned into signing a direct debit note.
Retired health and safety executive Alan Bywater, 77, from Smethwick, West Midlands, lost £3,640. He is pictured with his wife Sheila, right
Pictured: One man, in the centre, waits to try and try sell electronics to elderly people in Playa de Las Americas
Playa de Las Americas has become a hotspot for conmen and scammers. Pictured is a street trader walking through the resort who is not involved in any alleged frauds
He said: ‘They say there’s no fool like an old fool and this is the case here. ‘I was completely taken in after they kept me in the shop for two hours. By the time I got out I didn’t know if I was coming or going.
‘They kept asking for my credit card time after time. They offered me tea or a drink and were very polite. But they were buttering me up.
‘I agreed to buy a different tablet off the shelf which they said was HD and I could plug into my TV at home.
‘It was only when I was on the flight home that somebody said I should check that I hadn’t been scammed. When I got home, I realised the terrible thing they had done.
‘I do feel very stupid. I have been completely taken in. I just never saw it coming. They seemed so nice.
‘I would hate for anybody who is my age to have to suffer something like this. It could end up killing them.’
Many of the victims are elderly – with conmen also targeting those on mobility scooters. Pictured is a man riding an electric scooter through the resort of Playa de Las Americas
Tenerife is a popular getaway for British tourists with thousands flocking to visit its sun-kissed beaches each year (pictured)
A general view shows tourists at outside shops in Tenerife, which is a popular destination for sunseekers in the UK
Another British victim Sue Pistrowski lost £2,500 after spotting an advert for a tablet inside a clothes shop in Costa Adeje.
She thought she was paying €100 for the device which would supposedly enable her and her husband to watch all sports free and cancel their Sky satellite TV package.
Mrs Pistrowski, 66, who works in the accounts department of a caravan sales company near Stratford upon Avon, was compensated under Britain’s credit card act, but her claim was nearly derailed by the shop providing faked paperwork stating she had bought an Apple iPad, iPhone and a video game station.
She said: ‘They took a copy of my husband’s passport and I believe they tried to copy his signature as proof of us receiving goods.
She added: ‘We were lured in to the shop and then the hard sell began We were bought drinks and taken out the back door to go to an electrical store.
Another British victim Sue Pistrowski (pictured) who lost £2,500 after spotting an advert for a tablet inside a clothes shop in Costa Adeje
Pictured is a street seller in Playa de Las Americas where the MailOnline has been carrying out an investigating into a recent spate of scams. The street seller was not involved in any of the alleged scams
‘They even checked our limits on our credit card determining how much they will could take. They put us under such intense pressure and it wasn’t easy to walk away.
‘But that night I could not sleep properly and I woke up feeling we had been scammed as we had been given no paperwork. I was right in what I had been fearing.
‘They had lied saying our satellite service was being set up by Google and the paperwork would come from them.
‘They even gave us a bar code which we were to show to airport customs if we were asked but it was all part of their routine.
‘These people need stopping. I am very angry and I would advise anyone not to go into these shops and just walk away.’
A Tenerife hotelier said: ‘It is very upsetting when some of my guests tell me that they have lost so much money to these thieves.
‘Some of them are in tears, and they cannot understand how coming on holiday can see them lose their savings.
‘When you are in your senior years, you may be more trusting or maybe even have less energy to argue with people.’
Source : https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11998149/Souvenir-shop-scammers-ae-caught-camera-trying-UK-tourists-Tenerife.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ito=1490&ns_campaign=1490&rand=1270