issue new fraud warning as hundreds are targeted
police's organised crime unit has this week issued a fresh warning
to residents in the Burnham-On-Sea area about the threat of 'courier
Police say the south west region is being targeted by unscrupulous
fraudsters, who are preying on vulnerable elderly people, some
of whom have been duped out of thousands of pounds during the
past two months.
number of people who have been targeted in the West Country has
now topped 200, with 15 offences recorded in the Avon and Somerset
police force area, including the Burnham-On-Sea area. One local
victim lost £34,000.
believe the amount of cash demanded by the fraudsters could top
half a million pounds across the region.
perpetrators contact potential victims who are often elderly
- by telephone. They are then encouraged by the fraudster using
an elaborate and convincing reason to withdraw large sums of cash,
which they are then asked to send to London by taxi or via a courier,
who will collect the money from their home.
The culprit claims the money is potential evidence for an investigation.
The money is needed so that it can be forensically examined.
Another scam involves someone also claiming to be a police officer
based in London, who informs the victim that two people have been
arrested in the capital. When arrested they had in their possession
bank cards which contained details of the victim. The victim is
asked to recall the bogus officer.
Because the fraudster does not replace his phone, the unsuspecting
victim speaks to him and is encouraged to provide private banking
details and may also be asked to withdraw cash.
DCI Will White of the police's Zephyr crime unit said: "We
really dont know the extent of this extremely worrying problem.
It is possible that the thousands of pounds which have been demanded
and lost and the sums that we have been prevented from being surrendered
may only be the tip of the iceberg. It is possible that some victims
may feel too embarrassed, ashamed or humiliated to come forward
and report that they have been duped."
would like to hear from these people, so that we can establish
how widespread this particular crime is and so that support and
advice can be provided," said DCI White.
police and the banks will never ask you for banking details or
PIN numbers on the phone. Similarly, they would never send a so-called
courier to collect bank cards or money."
"In recent incidents the victims did the right thing when
they became suspicious of callers. They hung up the phone and
called the police. They waited until they could hear a dialling
tone or used a different phone to call us, ensuring that the scammers
werent still connected to the line."
"The more we talk about this scam and the more people who
are made aware of it, the less likely that they are to become
victims. We need people to spread the word. If you have elderly
and vulnerable relatives, neighbours, colleagues and friends warn
them to be vigilant and on their guard for telephone calls of
"We are also appealing to taxi owners to be vigilant, especially
if asked to courier small packages to London for elderly people,"
said DCI White.
Already some arrests have been made in connection with courier
fraud although people are urged to remain vigilant. Three men
from London aged 23, 22, and 18 have been arrested in connection
with courier fraud. Two of them admitted offences and have been
released on court bail to await sentencing. Avon and Somerset
Police have arrested two further men from London in connection
with courier fraud. They have been released on police bail, pending