A MAN is warning of a scam after his dying father was conned by fraudsters selling disabled parking permits online.

Alf Humphreys, 78, handed over £54 to apply for a blue badge, not realising the service is free.

It was only when Mr Humphreys died on June 3 after a long battle with stomach cancer that his family realised he had been a victim of the heartless con.

His son, Paul, 51, of Thisselt Road, Canvey, has spoken out to warn other people to be vigilant.

He said: “Dad went online to buy the blue badge when he got really ill.

“Three weeks later, we still hadn’t heard back from the company and dad said to leave it as he was so ill.”

The family received a postal order from a company in Ireland, but when Mr Humphries contacted it, they had no record of his father’s online payment and warned it had recieved similar calls about scams.

Mr Humphreys said: “What’s so disgraceful is it’s the really vulnerable people they are getting.

People like my father who did not have long to live.

“How he found them I will never know.”

Northgate Public Services who run the Blue Badge Improvement Service, are warning residents to be on their guard after a spate of scams charging from £49.

Joe Bradley, Northgate’s executive director, said: “We would like to assure potential applicants that the application process is free and that the best way to apply is via your local council or via the official Blue Badge website, at www.gov.

uk/apply-blue-badge “Unauthorised websites are preying on vulnerable, disabled people, and taking advantage of what is a successful and beneficial service.”

The only payment required for a blue badge is a cost of about £10 and is paid to your local council.

Essex County Council said: “When you search online, these websites will often appear at the top of the search engine page and people think they are the official site.”

Essex Trading Standards says residents should ensure they are on the official site before placing an order.

Southend Council support Northgate’s system.

Sue Taylor, blue badge team leader, said: “This was the way forward for us and we have fully embraced the new system– and it is now our single system for customer management of blue badges.

“The system design and functionality is excellent and it gives us the freedom and flexibility to adapt it to our needs.”