SCAMMERS are targeting Inverclyde residents with a cruel council tax Christmas con promising them thousands of pounds worth of refunds.

The fraudsters are cold-calling people telling them they are in the wrong tax band and entitled to large windfalls — as long as they pay a £150 fee.

One woman told yesterday how she saw off such an approach from a female calling herself 'Emmanuelle', and warned others to be on their guard.

She said: "I knew right away that it was a scam.

"There are that many going about that you can tell.

"Sometimes we get as many as 20 or 30 calls in a day between the house phone and the mobile.

"The girl had a nice, educated voice and she was really polite, saying that she worked alongside the local authority and I was due a £4,300 refund.

"I asked her what band I was in and she said D.

"I told her I’m in Band A and she put the phone down."

The woman, who declined to be identified, said: "I just thought I had to say something about this.

"I don't want some pensioner to be thinking they're going to get a big pay out before Christmas only to find their bank account has been emptied."

A spokesperson for Inverclyde Trading Standards says the scam has been commonplace in Inverclyde.

He told the Telegraph: "We would say to people be very suspicious of someone who calls you out-of-the-blue and says you are due a big cash pay out.

"The council doesn't do this, Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs doesn't do this and Microsoft, BT, Sky and Virgin don't phone people to tell them they have a problem with their computer or broadband either."