East Mids residents lose almost £200k to ‘police’ fraudsters during lockdown
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Since going into nationwide lockdown in March there has been a significant increase in scams, particularly those targeting the elderly and vulnerable.
Courier Fraud is just one of the scams fraudsters are relentlessly using to con people out of thousands by pretending to be 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. The victim becomes embroiled in a fake story and is subsequently tricked into withdrawing large amounts of cash under the impression that they will be reimbursed.
The cash is then collected by a ‘police courier’ from the victim’s home address. On occasion the victim has been told to meet them at a local train station or even asked to travel to other cities to meet couriers. In recent months, some victims have been instructed to purchase high-value jewellery (mainly watches or gold) from local jewellers rather than withdraw and handover cash.
Here in the East Midlands and spread across the five forces, we’ve seen 162 reports of Courier Fraud since the start of lockdown. The eldest victim to be targeted was a 102-year-old Derbyshire resident, with the average victim age across the counties being 78-years-old.
Overall in the region victims have lost more than £186,000, with one Lincolnshire victim alone losing £26,000.
Since lockdown began, 23 people have been arrested on suspicion of courier fraud in connection with offences within the East Midlands, but we need your help to spread the word and help protect more potential victims.
Economic and Cyber Crime DCI Ed Mcbryde-Wilding said: “Although these types of crimes do not leave physical marks on victims, the effects of the stress and anxiety caused by losing life savings can be just as damaging.
“It cannot be understated how convincing, controlling and persistent these offenders are. They will convince victims to lie to family, friends and banking staff if challenged.
“Now more than ever we need to be looking out for each other and everyone can play a part in helping to spread the message far and wide; police will never ask you for money and the police will never get annoyed at you checking their identity.
“If something feels wrong, trust your gut – hang up, wait at least five minutes to make sure the call has been properly disconnected and call 101. If you have arranged to meet someone to exchange money, always ring 999.”
The next time you speak to an elderly friend, family member or neighbour, try to pass on at least one of the below messages; it could save them from losing their life savings:
- Police will never ask you to withdraw money, buy giftcards or goods like jewellery and watches.
- Police will always carry identification on them that can be corroborated by checking their details with your local force on 101 and they will happily wait for you to do so. Do not let anyone in your property until you can ascertain they’re legitimate.
- Police will never ask you to provide bank cards or PIN numbers or need to collect them.
- If you receive a call from someone claiming to be from the police then call your local police force to verify, from a different phone if possible to be sure that the person calling you hasn’t left the line open.
- Your bank ask questions about withdrawals to protect your finances, you should never be asked to lie to them about the reasons for withdrawing money.