Warning following fraudsters targeting elderly in Hereford

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West Mercia Police have been made aware of imposters claiming to be from the Fraud Squad are pretending to be police officers in an attempt to defraud people in a scam known as ‘Courier Fraud’.

Unfortunately a recent incident happened last Friday in Hereford when an 80 year old man fell victim to these fraudsters. He was conned into withdrawing an amount of cash from his personal bank account after being told his credit cards had been cloned. They then sent out two separate couriers to collect the cash from his home address.

Detective Inspector Emma Wright said: “This type of fraud often targets older and more vulnerable people and we would urge everyone to tell someone, by passing on the information about the bogus callers to relatives, friends and neighbours who may not have heard about the local telephone scam in operation.

“In the most recent incidents, ‘DS Spencer from the Fraud Squad’ was used as an alias but the name they use is regularly changed. Always remember that no police officer from any force or department will ever ask you to hand over money or transfer funds, regardless of their name or unit.”

The deception can also be carried out in several ways, such as -

  • 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.

“These scams can be extremely convincing and manipulative. The fraudsters may give (alleged) crime numbers, investigation details, and job titles. They will always claim that the transaction must be done in secret. The fraudsters condition their victim not to trust bank branch staff, which can make it hard for those staff to help.

“These calls are not genuine and payments should not be made. No legitimate bank/building society, police officer, or business will ever phone you to ask you to give them your card, your PIN, or your cash in the way we've described above.

"Don't trust anyone who calls you about your bank details. 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.

“Use a different telephone to make sure the line is clear. 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. Give yourself time to stop and think.

“Please remember the police will never contact you asking for your bank card or cash. 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."

“If the crime is still in progress, because for example, you have recently provided bank details or handed over cards or cash, or the caller has arranged for someone to visit your address to collect items, you should call the police to report this on 101. In an emergency dial 999.”

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