Three arrested as part of a nationwide campaign to tackle courier fraud
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Three people have been arrested by Leicestershire Police as part of a national campaign to target those responsible for scamming elderly and vulnerable people.
Courier fraud is where criminals call someone pretending to a police officer or bank official. They warn the victim that there are corrupt bank staff at the branch they use, who are intent on stealing their money, and ask them for their help.
In some cases the victim is asked to withdraw a sum of money and a courier is sent to their home address to collect it.
City of London Police are the national policing lead for fraud and they co-ordinated a campaign where awareness of courier fraud was raised and enforcement was carried in police forces up and down the country.
So far this year a 100 people have been arrested across the country as part of the campaign.
In January this year the force received two separate reports from a man and woman in their 80s who had been called by someone claiming to be a police officer working from a station in the London area.
He claimed the victims’ bank cards had been compromised and were carrying out an investigation into corrupt bank staff at their local branch in Leicestershire. They were told to withdraw a large sum of money from their accounts so they could check it wasn’t counterfeit.
Both victim withdrew £4,000 each from their accounts which was then collected by a courier from their home addresses.
In February a report was received from a couple in their 70s who had been contacted by someone posing as a police officer from the London area. On this occasion they asked the victims to purchase two high-value watches from a jewellers in Leicester as they were investigating the branch for selling possible counterfeit watches.
In March an 80-year-old woman was contacted by someone claiming to be a police officer and asked her to withdraw £8000 from her bank which was then collected by a courier.
A similar incident occurred in July when a 73-year-old woman was contacted in the same way and asked to withdraw more than £10,000 from her account. The suspect claimed they were investigating the bank for counterfeit currency. A courier was then sent to collect the money from the victim’s home.
Four of these reports came from the Lutterworth area and one from the Castle Donington area. Investigations into all of these incidents continue. Three men, aged 20, 27 and 36, have been questioned in relation to the reports and been released pending further enquiries.
Paul Wenlock from the force’s economic crime unit, said: “These types of offences are borderless crimes, those responsible target victims not necessarily in their own area but across the country.
“Our investigations led us into many force areas and those enquiries resulted in three people being identified and now the subject of our enquiries.
“All those targeted in these offences were elderly or vulnerable who were taken in by the suspects claiming they were police officers. They sounded genuine and gained the victims’ trust. Between the five victims more than £50,000 was lost to these fraudsters.
“The national campaign has resulted in 100 arrests and that is a significant number. City of London’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) were able to collate intelligence on suspect descriptions, aliases used, vehicles involved in the crimes, methodology used by criminals, bank account information and telephone numbers, and update police forces on a weekly basis. Having that dedicated resources has enabled work to be done on a national level.
“We will continue to take raise awareness of the issue and help reduce the chances of further people falling victim to these opportunist thieves. If you are contacted in similar circumstances we advise you to report your concerns immediately.”
Helpful tips on how to reduce your chances of becoming a victim can be found on the Action Fraud website https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/a-z-of-fraud/courier-scam
T/ Commander Clinton Blackburn, National Co-ordinator for Economic Crime, said: “Courier fraud is a grossly under-reported crime, usually due to victims being embarrassed and ashamed they have become a victim. Criminals committing courier fraud are nearly always part of broader criminal gangs: they are persuasive and can be aggressive. This can be particularly intimidating when they turn up on a victim’s doorstep. That’s why we have continued to focus on tackling this contemptible crime.
“Together with colleagues in other forces, we’re sending a loud, clear message from policing to courier fraudsters: your criminal activity won’t be tolerated. If you have been a victim of this despicable crime, please report to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or reporting online here.”