Cruel scammers are targeting people and tricking them into believing they owe money to the police, Cheshire Police said.

Fraudsters posing as police officers are calling people to demand money and gift cards and are using a number associated with Cheshire Constabulary.

The scam involves thieves ringing victims to say they're an officer with Cheshire Police and they must hand over thousands of pounds to "clear their name" for potential arrest and charges.

In some cases, scammers have even asked for gift cards to be purchased.

Cheshire Police said no police force would ring people and ask them to "clear their name" with money or gift cards.

Detective Sergeant Chris Jacques, of the Economic Crime Unit, said: “Phone numbers can easily be manipulated and this is how the scammers can often catch us off guard.

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“Fraudsters will come across as extremely convincing and will try their luck in targeting anyone just so they can benefit.

“No police force would call you and ask for money or gift cards in order to ‘clear your name’. If you do receive a phone call such as this, please do not be alarmed.

“Do not provide them with any information, hang up the phone and report it immediately to Cheshire Police via 101 or Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.”

David Keane, police and crime commissioner for Cheshire, said: “There are a lot of scams out there for various things and it is hard to know who or what to believe.

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“These scammers will stop at nothing when trying to take money from the innocent and hard-working residents of Cheshire.

“Please follow the advice and ensure that your elderly and vulnerable relatives or neighbours are aware of this scam so they do not fall foul.”

Key advice:

If you think you have fallen for a scam report it to Cheshire Constabulary on 101. Alternatively, you can contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or via actionfraud.police.uk.