A North East council have issued a warning about a new mobile phone scam which has left some of the town's residents with expensive monthly bills.

Hartlepool Borough Council's Trading Standards manager, Ian Harrison, has warned residents today (March 31) to be skeptical regarding a new mobile phone scam after cases were reported in the town.

He said the scam involves residents being contacted regarding a mobile phone upgrade, receiving the phone, being asked to return it after an error, and then being left with the expensive phone bill after the scammer disappears.

He said the council have contacted local mobile phone shops following a number of incidents where consumers have been phoned out of the blue by their phone provider and offered mobile phone upgrades.

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Adding to this, he said those making the calls had obtained sufficient information about their targets to be able to convince their mobile phone provider that they want an upgrade.

Speaking on the scam, Ian Harrison said: “Once the offer is accepted, a new phone arrives as promised but is quickly followed by a call advising that the wrong phone has been delivered and that it needs to be returned to a specific address.

“In reality, both calls are from scammers and the new phone ends up in the scammers’ hands.

“It would appear that to do this, the scammer has been able to obtain sufficient information about a consumer to be able to convince their mobile phone provider that they want an upgraded phone.

“The phone company, believing this to be a genuine request for an upgrade, sends out the new phone as requested to the consumer’s address.

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“When the phone is delivered, the scammer contacts the consumer immediately, once again pretending to be the phone company, apologising that the wrong phone has been sent and asking for it to be returned to a new address – which they provide.

“If the consumer believes this, they then, unwittingly, forward the brand new phone to the scammer who obviously keeps it and disappears. The consumer is then left with a new, much bigger, monthly phone bill for a phone that they no longer have."

Meanwhile, he urged the public to exercise caution if asked to return goods delivered to them, and said this could apply to a wide range of expensive items.

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He said residents should contact the company who sent the goods directly to verify the return request.

Adding to this, he said if anyone had already sent their goods to a new address, to contact the sender immediately.

If anyone believes they may have been scammed in this way they should contact 0300 123 2040.