A Bradford woman was tricked into paying out £20,000 after being told she had won millions on the lottery by telephone scammers targeting the district.

Police are warning residents about the con, where tricksters cold-call their victims claiming they have won the lottery or a cash prize, which has seen some lose tens of thousands of pounds.

PC Toni Hinnells, of Bradford South Police, said there had been ‘several reports’ of the scam in the district over the last few weeks and an investigation had started.

“Those behind the scam first contact their victims by telephone, claiming they have won the lottery or a cash prize,” she said.

“These people try to use tactics of manipulation to draw people in, often making religious references and striking up a friendship. They subsequently request that an administration fee is paid to release the lottery funds using a money transfer service.

“Many financial institutions offer this and it is a legitimate means of sending money which involves the use of a pin number.

“Once the pin number is provided to the suspects, however, the money is immediately withdrawn from outside of the UK making them extremely difficult to trace. The lottery funds, which clearly do not exist, are also never seen.”

In response to the scam, officers have organised an open day at Farnham Children’s Centre, Bradford, between 1pm and 3pm tomorrow to offer residents fraud prevention advice.

A resident, who did not want to be named, contacted the Telegraph & Argus yesterday to say she had received a letter in a suspected scam claiming she was due a payment of £99,500, but would need to pay £30 to release funds and supply her name, address and bank details.

PC Hinnells said: “I would ask that people remain vigilant when speaking to unknown callers and never to pass on personal information or banking details.

“If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is and we would urge those who are contacted via this method to inform the police.

“We have discovered that these funds are being deposited in the Bradford area and it is possible that those behind this scam are local.

“If you have any information which could help in our inquiries, or would like any crime prevention advice, please call the non-emergency number 101.”