WORCESTERSHIRE residents are being warned to be on their guard after an increase in courier frauds across the county where victims have been conned into handing over thousands of pounds.
Over the past few days, criminals have been phoning people at random – in particular the elderly and vulnerable – posing as police officers and bank staff.
One victim last week lost more than £250,000 so West Mercia Police are warning people to be on their guard.
Det Insp Emma Wright said: “Sadly, these predators are again targeting vulnerable people who are being fooled into believing their bank accounts have been compromised.
“These victims may not have seen the news recently or aware of media and police reports about this scam.
“I urge everyone who has elderly or vulnerable relatives to please give them call, call over the fence to their neighbour or remind them if they pop into your shop that the police will never, ever, call you and instruct you to withdraw your cash.
“No officer will ever ask for you to travel to a bank and hand over your money as part of an investigation, if a loved one is in custody or if your account has been compromised.”
In one instance, a victim believed there was an ‘open case’ on them and needed to pay £1,000 or they would be arrested.
DI Wright added: “Everyone should also remember that no bank or government agency will ever contact you and request you disclose personal or financial information or demand that you partake in any activity to support an ongoing investigation of theirs.”
She said the criminals were significant members of organised crime gangs with the confidence and the experience to be very convincing and ‘Courier Fraud’ was just one element of their criminal activities.
Beating these tricksters is simple – people can hang up and end the call.
DI Wright also urged people with elderly or vulnerable friends, family or neighbours to pass on the advice so the warning reaches as many people as possible.
“I would like to reassure people Herefordshire and Worcestershire that we are investigating these crimes and these gangs and want to hear from anyone who has been contacted in this way
“Please remember the police will never contact you asking for your bank card, details, cash or ask you to go to a bank to withdraw cash.”
Those encountering the scam should provide no details and hand nothing over, hang up, wait ten minutes before calling 101.
If the crime is still in progress, because for example, a person has recently provided bank details or handed over cards or cash, are going to visit their bank or the caller has arranged for someone to visit their address to collect items, the victim should call the police to report this on 999 as soon as possible.