A taxi driver who was driving an elderly woman to her bank, has saved her from losing her entire life savings.

A taxi driver from Bristol, was alerted to the potential fraud whilst chatting to her on the journey from her home to the bank. His quick thinking stopped the elderly victim from losing her entire life savings.

The taxi driver said alarms bells started to ring when the 87 year old said she was heading to her bank to withdraw all her money from her account. She explained to the driver how she had received a call from her bank saying there had been attempted fraudulent activity on her account, they had then instructed her to visit her local branch and remove all her money. They would then send a courier to her home address to collect the cash and place it in a new safer account.

Whilst driving the elderly victim to the bank, he knew something was wrong, he said to a local paper: “I drive a lot of people with Dementia, you start to feel quite responsible for them, you want to look out for them. She wasn’t a regular customer, she was a very elderly lady. I said ‘are you sure that’s not a scam? She replied ‘oh no, they wouldn’t scam me, I’m too savvy for that. When we arrived, she got out the passenger’s door and I rushed out of the driver’s door ahead of her. I told the receptionist I thought she was being scammed and the bank took over from there. I phoned my office and they called the police and between the police and the bank they worked out it was a scam.”

Det Sgt Marc Milliner of Avon and Somerset Police’s Complex Crime Unit. said: “His quick-thinking action has potentially saved the victim from being duped out of her life savings. We hope other taxi drivers and those providing a courier collection service will take this on board and alert us if they are asked to take elderly and vulnerable people to withdraw cash from their banks or are asked to collect packages from people on behalf of police officers or bank officials.”

What is Courier Fraud?

 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. The number calling you may even display the correct number for your bank or organisation contacting you, this is known as ‘Spoofing’.

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 or cash they have asked you to withdraw. 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 is being done about Spoofing?

The communications regulator Ofcom has pledged a crackdown on nuisance calls and is aiming to create, what they call a, ‘whitelist’ to end scammers hiding behind UK landlines. Scammers currently have the ability to hack into the telephone network and change the number that appears when call are made, this is known as Spoofing. It convinces the victim they are actually speaking to a trusted bank or business, and millions is lost every year to victims in the UK through these types of calls.

Ofcom plans on working with telecom companies to create a central database of verified phone numbers, so that they can track the real number behind each phone call much easier, and weed out numbers that are not recognised as genuine.

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