November has seen a rise in the number of attempts to defraud elderly and vulnerable people out of their banked savings.
Criminals pretending to be police officers use a scam known as ‘courier fraud’ and have taken over £85,000 from residents across Worcestershire and Herefordshire.
Detective Inspector Emma Wright from the West Mercia Police Economic Crime Unit said: “Not all attempts of this scam are successful and it is reassuring to see that our clear messaging that no police officer will ever ask you for money on the phone is a message that people are hearing. Sadly however, some vulnerable people have been taken advantage of and have handed over thousands of pounds. In one case a victim withdrew over £10,000 and returned home to give it to a ‘courier.’
“Don't trust anyone who calls you about your bank details or asking you to go to a bank to withdraw money. Always hang up and wait 10 minutes to ensure the call has disconnected before calling 101.
“If you want to check they are legitimate, find their number via directory enquiries and call them back.
“If possible, also use a different telephone line to make sure the line is clear e.g. a mobile phone or the phone of a trusted friend or relative. If they are genuine, you should be able to get through to them. You can also check what they are saying is true with your bank.
“Scams can be very elaborate, very convincing and cruel. If you think someone is trying to scam you, tell someone straight away. Don't be pressured and give yourself time to stop and think.
“Please remember the police will never contact you asking for your bank card or cash. We will also never ask you to purchase expensive items or transfer money to a safe account If someone does, it's a scam – provide no details and hand nothing over, hang up and report it immediately to Action Fraud at www.actionfraud.police.uk or 0300 123 2040."
“We are working hard to identify these criminals trying to con our elderly and vulnerable family members and friends and a number of arrests have been made and charges have been brought. However we would ask the public to spread this message of caution and awareness throughout the wider community and would urge you to pass on, particularly to elderly relatives or neighbours, information about these scams and ask them not to trust anyone who asks them for their bank details or for money over the phone.”
What is Courier Fraud?
- A phone caller pretending to be a police officer who is investigating unidentified activity/ fraud in their bank account and that they must cooperate with the ‘investigation’.
- The victim is then persuaded to withdraw funds and hand them over to the 'investigators', either by some remote means or in person to a courier.
- The victim is told that if the bank cashier queries the large withdrawal that they are to say it is for work/repairs in the home or Christmas shopping.
- Alternatively the victim may be asked to hand over bank cards, vouchers or other valuable items. They may also be asked to transfer funds to another account, which is controlled by the fraudsters.
- In some cases a victim is encouraged to hang up the phone and dial 101 to confirm with the police that the request is genuine. In these cases the line has stayed connected to the fraudster, who puts on another person to confirm this. In some cases a dial tone is played to the victim so they think they have called the genuine police. This is why we advise putting down the phone and waiting 10 minutes or using another telephone line. This way victims can be sure the call has disconnected from the fraudster.