Fraudsters posing as police officers and bank officials have stolen over £6.1 million over the past year. The scams directly target elderly and vulnerable people, they call victims claiming that their bank account is at risk from fraudsters. These despicable and elaborate crimes have been dubbed ‘Courier Fraud’ and in most cases, they involve a victim being tricked into giving out their personal information or pin numbers, followed by a courier arriving at their home to collect their bank cards or cash.
A victim in her late 70’s was told that there was a suspected counterfeiting ring at her local bank, and the police needed her to withdraw cash so they could check the bank notes. Speaking to the press association, she said: “I didn’t know how the police would contact me if this scenario was true. People like me grew up in the age where the police were very well respected. I just wanted to help”.
She was telephoned out of the blue by scammers pretending to be police officers, claiming that two suspects had tried to use her bank card with her name on it. They told her to call the number on the back of her card, but did not hang up the call, so when she tried to call the number she did not know she was still speaking to the fraudsters. They then managed to persuade her to help them in an operation to uncover who was manufacturing fake bank notes. She wanted to help the officers so went to her branch and withdrew over £5,000. When she returned home a courier came to collect the money from her. She only began to become suspicious when the courier arrived so quickly at her home, and reported it to the police.
A spokesperson from Action Fraud said: “Your bank or the police will never call you to ask you to verify your personal details or PIN by phone or offer to pick up your card by courier. Hang up if you get a call like this and never give your card to a stranger to take away.
How to spot a scam
You may get called on your mobile or landline by someone who claims to be from your bank or the police. They say their systems have spotted a fraudulent payment on your card or it is due to expire and needs to be replaced.
They might suggest that you hang up and redial the number of their bank or police force to reassure you that they’re genuine. However, they don’t disconnect the call from the landline so that when you dial the real phone number, you’re still speaking to the same fraudster.
They’ll then ask you to read out your credit or debit card PIN or type it on your phone keypad. They may ask for details of other accounts you hold with the bank or elsewhere to grab more information.
Then they promise to send a courier to you to collect your bank card. The fraudster will have your name, address, full bank details, card and its PIN, and withdraw cash using the card and may even use the information to commit identity fraud in your name.
What to do if you think you have been a victim of a scam?
You can contact Action Fraud by phone: 0300 123 2040. If your bank is refusing to help you, you can contact the Financial Ombudsman service on 0800 023 4567.