Officers investigating incidents of fraud have issued a warning to others after two elderly people from the Oakham area were victims in the last week.
Two incidents have been reported where victims have lost more than £33,000 as a result of 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In some instances, after trust has been gained, the fraudster will claim money has been withdrawn from the victim’s account by staff within the bank.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.
Last week a 75-year-old woman was the victim of this fraud and lost £25,000. She was contacted over a number of days by someone claiming to be a police officer who was investigating counterfeit currency. She was told to withdraw cash from her bank account over a few days and a courier was then sent to collect the money on two separate occasions.
A second victim lost more than £8000 after she was contacted by someone claiming to be a police officer. The 78-year-old victim was told to withdraw cash from her bank account and inform bank staff it was for her grandchildren if they asked. A courier was then sent to collect the cash.
A third report related to an 88-year-old man who fortunately didn’t lose any money as the bank intervened and raised concerns about the withdrawal. He had also been contacted by someone claiming to be a police officer investigating counterfeit currency.
Nicole McIntyre from the force’s economic crime unit, said: “It’s very worrying that these two victims have lost so much money.
“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.