A pensioner with a spinal disability has slammed an internet scam which conned her into paying £49 for a disability badge that never arrived.
Great grandmother Joan Smith, 81, from Fulwood, Preston, was left distressed when she was tricked into paying a dubious website to apply for a Blue Badge, which assists disabled people to park more easily.
Making an application is free, and the badge costs up to £10 - but she was told it would cost £49.
Joan cares for her husband Sydney, 82, who has Alzheimer’s, and daughter Judith, 51, who has mental health problems, as well as coping with her own painful back problems.
She applied for the badge because her condition means she can not walk far.
Today Joan, who used to work at Peter Craig’s mail order firm at Tulketh Mill, said: “I ordered Sydney’s badge online for him last year wuth no trouble. But I need my own for when I have to leave him at home as I can’t use his.
“I feel angry and cheated - but I’m angry at myself for losing the money.
“I want other people not to fall victim like I did.”
Joe Bradley, executive director of Northgate Public Services, which manages the blue badge service, said: “We are concerned there are new websites out there misleading people into thinking they have to pay £49 before they can even apply for a Blue Badge. This is not the case. We would like to assure potential applicants that the application process is free and the best way to apply is via your council or the official Blue Badge website www.gov.uk/apply-blue-badge.
“Unauthorised websites are preying on vulnerable, disabled people and taking advantage of what is a beneficial service.”