Thousands of pounds have been lost by victims of courier fraud scams in recent weeks and Somerset Police are urging people to make friends and family aware of the risks.
Unsuspecting victims have reported receiving calls from criminals claiming to be from the police or their bank, asking them to withdraw cash and to leave it for a courier to collect.
Police say two latest incidents have occurred across the force area, including in North Somerset, Sedgemoor and South Gloucestershire.
In some cases those victims handed over thousands of pounds in cash, whereas in others the banks identified the request was suspicious and contacted the police.
Fraud protect officer Amy Horrobin says: “Courier fraud can affect anyone, but the recent incidents have seen people aged 70 and older particularly targeted so we’d ask people make sure friends and family know what signs to look out for.”
“What the fraudsters basically do is prey on people’s good nature to help and they can do it in different ways.”
In one courier fraud scam, the criminal pretends to work for the victim’s bank and says they are investigating counterfeit notes at their local branch. They get the victim to go to the bank to withdraw money but order them not tell the bank they have been asked to do this.
The caller says they will send someone around to the victim’s house to collect the notes so they can be taken away to see if they are counterfeit – in reality they just drive off with the victim’s money.
Another common tactic Police have seen recently is for the fraudster to claim to work for the Police – often in another part of the country – and say they are investigating or have arrested someone for using a cloned bank or credit card belonging to the victim.
The understandably concerned victim then is urged to withdraw money as part of the investigation, but again is simply giving the fraudster their hard-earned cash.
Amy added: “The fundamental thing to remember is there is no scenario where your bank or police will need you to withdraw money for them or purchase items such as jewellery or gift cards. They will never do that, or ask you to leave money out for a courier to collect.”
“The fraudsters know this and will do every trick in the book to convince you that your money is at risk. They often come up with inventive ways such as telling the victim they know what bank they are with, the account number or address linked to the bank account – but that doesn’t make their call legitimate. Neither does being given a password that the courier will say to you when picking up the money.”
“On one occasion when the fraudster claimed to be a police officer, they encouraged them to check with their local force they had someone with that name. But because the fraudster didn’t hang up, when the victim called the ‘police’ seconds later they ended up just continuing the conversation with the criminals.”
PCC Mark Shelford said: “These scammers pose as trusted officials, apply pressure to individuals in the hope they will let their guard down.”
“We need to be one step ahead of these fraudsters and ensure as many of us as possible know how to spot the tactics and warning signs. By having this conversation with loved ones, it could prevent them from being a victim of fraud.”
What you need to know?
- Neither the police nor your bank will ask you to legitimately withdraw cash
- Neither the police nor your bank will ask you to hand over money to anyone
- Neither the police nor your bank will ask you for personal banking details, such as your PIN
What should I do if targeted in a courier fraud scam?
- Take your time. Consider would the police or you bank really ask you to do this? No.
- Don’t panic and hang up. If you don’t provide any bank details your money is safe
- If you are concerned and want to call the police on 101 or your bank with the number they advertise (not any number given over the phone during the scam) to check, then leave it 5-10 minutes and listen out for a dialling tone before calling, or use a different phone, so the fraudster doesn’t stay on the other end of the line
- Report it to Action Fraud online or on 0300 123 2040. Call 999 for police in an emergency.