The daughter of an elderly woman has spoken out in support of a police campaign to prevent people from being scammed - after her mother was defrauded out of £320,000.

Fraudsters persuaded the north Cumbrian woman to move her money as part of a so-called "investment".

Her daughter, who wishes to remain anonymous, described the scammers as "evil people".

She said: “My parents were both fiercely independent with their own financial affairs, and I had no reason to doubt their capabilities regarding such matters, but my father passed away a number of years ago, leaving my mother in sole charge.

“The first sign that things weren’t quite right was when the financial advisor called me to say my mother had moved some money out of an account he had set up for her, so I questioned her about it.

“She said it was being done through the bank, but in fact, this money was going to a cold caller who had rung a number of times and befriended my mother, making out he was part of a large financial firm in London.

“He rang numerous times for a chat, and bolstered his background story, persuading her to invest in his company to earn far more than she was getting. She transferred the money in several lump sums.

“The most upsetting thing about it all is that my parents have worked hard all their lives to save and invest their money, not only them, but previous generations throughout the years.

"It’s a life changing amount of money that has gone, and I’ve been told that there are other elderly people throughout the country who have succumbed to these evil people.”

Cumbria Police have today launched a campaign to raise awareness of telephone scams in a bid to prevent more similar cases.

The victim’s daughter urged members of the public to ensure the finances of their elderly relatives were safe.

“Please, please, make sure you safeguard your elderly relatives from these unscrupulous individuals,” she added.

“Be aware of their financial circumstances, and if they are not capable of looking after their own finances, get some professional advice.

“This experience, the fact that people will take advantage of vulnerable elderly people who are trusting, has left us all shocked and sickened.”

Over the past year, Cumbria Police has received many similar calls involving fraudsters purporting to be from a range of organisations, including HMRC, banks, courts and police.

These scammers tell victims that they owe money – whether that be in tax, parking offences, or some other form of debt, and often give a deadline to meet for payment.

Some have told their victims that they can pay using iTunes vouchers, which can be bought from local supermarkets. There have been 21 reports of this type of incident in the last year.

Detective Sergeant Stephanie Goulding said: “For those who are familiar with the use of iTunes vouchers, you may think that you would be able to detect such a scam quite easily.

"However, these fraudsters can be extremely intimidating and convincing and many of those in their 70s and 80s would never have heard of iTunes vouchers, so have no understanding that they are not a legitimate way to pay off debt.

“We ask that friends and family speak to their relatives and neighbours to make them aware that this is happening.”

iTunes released a statement saying: “It's important to know that iTunes Gift Cards can be used ONLY to purchase goods and services on the iTunes Store, App Store, iBooks Store, or for an Apple Music membership.

"If you're approached to use the cards for payment outside of the iTunes Store, App Store, iBooks Store, or Apple Music, you could very likely be the target of a scam.

“Please do not ever provide the numbers on the back of the card to someone you do not know.

"Once those numbers are provided to the scammers, the funds on the card will likely be spent before you are able to contact Apple or law enforcement.”