GOOD Samaritans in Bournemouth are being targeted by a cruel trickster who is charging them up to £70 for parcels containing nothing but waste paper.

The hoaxer rings unsuspecting residents to ask them if they will accept a parcel on behalf of a neighbouring house or company.

If the victim agrees, the fraudster hand delivers a package and charges them up to £70 to cover the cost of postage and handling.

It is then discovered that neighbours have no knowledge of the parcel, sender or its contents. Once opened, parcels are found to contain nothing other than random leaflets or other paper waste.

Inspector Neil Phillips from Bournemouth police said: “Sadly this fraudster is taking advantage of people’s commendable desire to help their neighbours.

“I would like to remind members of the public that they should double check with their neighbours if they receive a similar request to accept a parcel.

“There is absolutely nothing wrong with making sure that you are 100 per cent certain before accepting a package and it doesn’t take long to either check in person or phone our neighbour.

“You should never feel obliged to pay for parcels that are intended for your neighbours. You do so at your own risk.”

Inspector Phillips urged others who know of similar scams to contact the police as soon as possible on 01202 222222 or the free and anonymous Crimestoppers line on 0800 555111.