West Mercia Police have seen a recent increase in fraudsters claiming to be from various police services around the country. These include callers that are pretending to be police officers from the Fraud Squad in Scotland Yard
They often target the old and vulnerable and we would urge everyone to tell someone, by passing on the information about the bogus callers to relatives, friends and neighbours who may not have heard about the local telephone scam in operation.
Officers are urging the public to get in touch with elderly and vulnerable friends and family to warn them of the risk and to know what to do.
The latest scam:
Across Herefordshire and Worcestershire in the last week there have been several successful and unsuccessful attempts to defraud people using telephone scams.
In some cases there have been thousands of pounds successfully taken from the elderly and vulnerable residents by criminals pretending to be police officers.
In a number of attempts a ‘DC Rose’ was used as an alias. The deception can also be carried out in several ways, such as –
- A phone caller pretending to be a police officer who is investigating unidentified activity/ fraud in their bank account and that they must cooperate with the ‘investigation’.
- The victim is then persuaded to withdraw funds and hand them over to the ‘investigators’, either by some remote means or in person to a courier.
- The victim is told that if the bank cashier queries the large withdrawal that they are to say it is for work/repairs in the home or Christmas shopping.
- Alternatively the victim may be asked to hand over bank cards, vouchers or other valuable items. They may also be asked to transfer funds to another account, which is controlled by the fraudsters.
These scams can be extremely convincing and manipulative. The fraudsters may give (alleged) crime numbers, investigation details, and job titles. They will always claim that the transaction must be done in secret. The fraudsters condition their victim not to trust bank branch staff, which can make it hard for those staff to help.
These calls are not genuine and payments should not be made. No legitimate bank/building society, police officer, or business will ever phone you to ask you to give them your card, your PIN, or your cash in the way we’ve described above.
West Mercia Police Detective Sergeant Jon Cooper form the Economic Crime Unit said: “Don’t trust anyone who calls you about your bank details. Always hang up and wait 10 minutes to ensure the call has disconnected before calling 101.
“If you want to check they are legitimate, find their number via directory enquiries and call them back.
“Use a different telephone to make sure the line is clear. If they are genuine, you should be able to get through to them. You can also check what they are saying is true with your bank.
“Scam can be very elaborate, very convincing and cruel. If you think someone is trying to scam you, tell someone straight away. Don’t be pressured. Give yourself time to stop and think.
“Please remember the police will never contact you asking for your bank card or cash. If someone does, it’s a scam – provide no details and hand nothing over, hang up and report it immediately to Action Fraud at www.actionfraud.police.uk or 0300 123 2040.”
He added: “We are working hard to identify these cowards conning our elderly and vulnerable family members and friends and over the weekend two men were charged with fraud in a case similar to others in Herefordshire over the weekend. However, we are asking for help from the public to spread this message throughout the wider community and would urge you to pass on, particularly to elderly relatives or neighbours, information about these scams and ask them not to trust anyone who asks them for their bank details.”
If you get a phone call like the ones we’ve described, hang up – do not provide any personal details or hand anything over. Then report it to Action Fraud at www.actionfraud.police.ukor 0300 123 2040.
If the crime is still in progress, because for example, you have recently provided bank details or handed over cards or cash, or the caller has arranged for someone to visit your address to collect items, you should call the police to report this on 101. In an emergency dial 999.
If you need some support from your bank or building society, go to your local branch or phone them on the correct number (not one a mystery caller gives you, as this is likely to be part of the scam).