Elderly people are being warned to be vigilant of phone scams after a pensioner was conned out of more than £20,000 after “cruel” fraudsters tricked him into buying hundreds of iTunes Vouchers.

Between Saturday, January 20 and Thursday, February 1 the 81-year-old man from Rickmansworth received 13 calls from men claiming to work for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

They kept telling the victim that he had an outstanding debt that needed to be paid, before instructing him to purchase 267 vouchers.

The fraudsters then called back and asked for the codes on them.

A member of the public became suspicious after seeing the man purchase a large amount and police were contacted.

Detective Constable Nick Surridge, from the Three Rivers Local Crime Unit, advised: “Unfortunately these fraudsters can be highly convincing and often prey on the trusting nature of their elderly victims. I would urge people to please remain vigilant if they receive calls of a similar nature. Legitimate organisations would never request payments to be made in iTunes, or any other kind of voucher.

“If you aren’t sure, end the call and contact police on 101. Remember to wait at least five minutes, or use a different number, to ensure you are not reconnected to the offender.

“We want to get this message out as widely as possible to prevent others falling victim to this cruel scam. I would ask that people please share this information with older friends, relatives and neighbours, who may not otherwise have heard about it.”

If you have been called in similar circumstances, please contact police on the non-emergency number 101.