Police have issued an urgent warning after a Universal Credit scam left vulnerable victims out of pocket.

Residents in Lanarkshire, many who receive government benefits or may be eligable for Universal Credit, have been targetted by cruel frauds.

The scammers, impersonating DWP staff, appear to offer people 'free' loans in public, over the phone or over social media.

One victim was introduced to this scam by a friend on social media.

The friend helped them receive the ‘free grant’ of over £1,000, only to later be asked to transfer £500 to the fraudster’s account as a ‘finder’s fee’.

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The victim only realised they had fallen victim to a scam after they received a letter from DWP requesting repayments for the loan.

A post on the Lanarkshire Police Facebook page reads: 

"Fraudsters target victims who currently receive government benefits, or may be eligible for Universal Credit:

"1.The victim is contacted by a fraudster offering them a ‘free’ or ‘low cost’ Government loan or grant.

"2.The fraudster requests personal and financial information from the target and uses these details to apply for Universal Credit in the victim’s name, usually without informing the victim about it.

"3.The Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) approves the eligible claim and transfers money to the victim’s account.

"4.The fraudster then requests that the victim transfer them a significant portion of the money as a ‘finder’s fee’.

"5.The victim receives a letter from DWP about their Universal Credit application and realises that they have been duped. The victim is then left to repay the total amount initially borrowed."

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Police advised locals to "never share your personal or financial information with someone you don’t know and trust, especially if it’s in response to an offer of 'free money' or a 'free grant'.

"DWP will never approach you in the street or ask for your personal/financial details over social media."

Anyone who has concerns about their benefits is urged to visit here.

If you have concerns about your benefits, you should visit here.