05:44PM, Wednesday 29 July 2020
Police have warned residents to be on their guard against fraudsters who have conned people out of thousands of pounds.
Since the beginning of the year, Thames Valley Police has responded to more than 80 reports of ‘courier fraud’, in which scammers contact victims by telephone, purporting to be from a reputable organisation, such as the police or a bank, in order to obtain cash, cards or bank account details. Elderly people are particularly vulnerable to their tactics.
Detective Inspector Duncan Wynn, part of the Thames Valley Police Economic Crime Unit, said: “Criminals have used stories, including an unexpected order on an online account, or that your bank card has been found on a suspect in police custody and officers want to move your money into a safe account.
“Anyone could be targeted by those committing courier fraud but we do tend to see that a larger majority of those targeted are aged over 70 years old.
“They are from a generation that trust. If they receive a call from the police or the bank, they will try their best to cooperate.
“If that vulnerable person is isolated, they haven’t got many people around them to verify that information, they’ll believe it.”
He said: “Challenge and question whether the call could be fake. It’s OK to reject, refuse or ignore any requests and hang up. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
“The police and other reputable organisations will never ask you to move money to a safe account, ask you to reveal your banking PIN or full password or send anyone to your house to collect cards, cash or jewellery.”
Detective Inspector Wynn recommends residents check to make sure that the caller is genuine by hanging up and calling back.
He said: “Hang up and make sure the phone line is clear by calling another number – a friend or family member. This makes sure the line is working correctly and hasn’t been blocked by fraudsters.”
He also recommended visiting the local bank branch, rather than conducting any transactions by phone and to always trust the words of bank staff at your local branch over anyone else’s.
“Something the fraudsters will do is cast suspicion on the bank, saying the bank is under investigation and not to tell the bank what’s happening,” he said.
“They will give the victim a cover story to tell the bank about why they’re withdrawing the money. Trust your bank.”
He added: “Protect yourself and your money and contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen victim to a scam and make a report to Action Fraud online or by calling 0300 123 2040.”
Further information and help can be found on the Action Fraud website, the UK’s national fraud and cybercrime reporting centre.
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