MP falls victim of credit card scam

An MP has revealed how he became one of the latest victims of credit card fraud after thieves withdrew more than £1,000 from his account.Bob Blizzard, who represents the Waveney constituency, was shocked to be told that several withdrawals had been made in the northern Italian city of Padova.

An MP has revealed how he became one of the latest victims of credit card fraud after thieves withdrew more than £1,000 from his account.

Bob Blizzard, who represents the Waveney constituency, was shocked to be told that several withdrawals had been made in the northern Italian city of Padova.

He spoke out as police revealed there had been a spate of card fraud in his home town of Lowestoft in recent weeks and two suspected attempts to fit cloning devices to cash machines in King's Lynn.

Latest figures show that bank card fraud is steadily falling, but £428m was still stolen during 2006. In East Anglia, a total of £5.8m was taken from accounts.

Mr Blizzard said: “It's really quite scary and unnerving to think that your personal details are somehow obtained by people.

“My message to people is to be vigilant and to scrutinise their bills very carefully. There are gangs of organised criminals who are committing this fraud.”

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Mr Blizzard, who has never been to Padova, said he had been alerted by

the Nationwide Building Society to several suspicious withdrawals from his account and that the stolen

money had now been credited back to him.

Fraudsters often attach cloning equipment, known as skimming devices, to bank machines to take records of people's bank details, but Mr Blizzard said he could not have been duped this way because he never used his credit card to withdraw cash.

He added: “I didn't suffer any financial loss in the end, but it is a mystery as to what they were doing with my details in Padova.

“The advice I received from Nationwide was very helpful and it is reassuring to know that they are working hard to combat this type of crime.”

A spokesman for the Association for Payment Clearing Services (APACS), which champions the fight against bank fraud, said criminals could attempt to use card-cloning

equipment in a wide variety of retail outlets.

In recent months, there has been a spate of crime linked to petrol stations around the country.

Suffolk police spokesman Anne-Marie Breach said: “We have had a number of incidents in the Lowestoft area in recent weeks and we would urge people to be cautious.”

Norfolk police spokesman Beth Manning said it was believed there had been attempts to fit skimming devices, which appear as false fronts to cash machines, at a building society in Lynn.

She added: “While much is being done to combat fraud, we would encourage card holders to take responsibility for their financial transactions and to report anything suspicious immediately to their

bank or building society, or the police.”

Figures released by APACS show that of the £428m stolen in total card fraud across the UK, £99.6m came

from the use of skimming devices -

an increase of 3pc on the previous year.

Providing the fraud is proved, banks will pay money back to the victims, although this will take longer when debit cards are involved.

cOMMENT - Page 28

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