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Officers investigating a number of incidents of fraud have issued a warning to others after an elderly couple were among the victims.
Between October last year and to date the force has received 11 reports relating to offences commonly known as courier fraud.
Courier fraud occurs when a fraudster contacts victims by telephone claiming to be a police officer or bank official. The caller sounds plausible and may confirm the victim’s name and address, basic information which could be obtained easily.
In some instances, after trust has been gained, the fraudster will claim money has been withdrawn from the victim’s account by staff within the bank. They persuade them to go their local branch and take out a large sum of money from their account. The fraudsters then send someone to collect the money from the victim’s home address.
This was the case for an elderly couple in Kilby, Leicestershire, who were contacted in this way on New Year’s Eve (31 December). Following a call from someone claiming to be a police officer from the Metropolitan Police the victim was persuaded to withdraw £5,500 from their bank account which was later collected by a courier.
Nicole McIntyre from the force’s economic crime unit, said: “Luckily in six of the 11 cases the fraud was prevented by either a third party or the victims themselves who became suspicious.
“This type of offence is of great concern to us. Suspects are targeting elderly or vulnerable people. They sound genuine and gain the trust of the victims.
“The police or banks would not contact people in this way. If you get a call like this hang up. If you need to contact your bank to check wait five minutes as fraudsters can stay on the line even after you have hung up, or use a different line altogether. Your bank cards are yours and never let them be used by others.
“We are asking people to remain vigilant. If you have elderly neighbours or relatives who don’t access our website or social media sites please advise them of these incidents.
“Telephone companies can assist with call blocking technology to help restrict these types of calls. We would recommend that people talk this through with their vulnerable or elderly family and friends to help prevent this activity.
“At times the fraudsters use local taxi firms to transport potential victims to their banks. We would ask taxi companies to be mindful of this and if they have any suspicions to contact the police immediately.
“Further advice about the scam can be found on the Action Fraud website https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/a-z-of-fraud/courier-fraud and the steps people can take to protect themselves.”