Stolen money returned to Hertfordshire scam victim
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A vulnerable Hertfordshire resident who was scammed out of £18,500 by a fraudster, posing as a police officer, has been reimbursed by their bank.
The victim was contacted in April 2022 by a phone call from someone claiming to be a police officer, who said they were investigating fraudulent activity on the victim’s bank account. The fraudster asked the victim if they could withdraw cash from their account and check the serial numbers on the notes. The victim was instructed to stay on the phone whilst withdrawing the cash and told to take the money to a nearby car park, where it was collected by a man driving a delivery van.
The scammer contacted the victim two more times during April and May 2022, again instructing them to withdraw more cash and hand it over to a waiting courier.
The fraud was investigated by Hertfordshire Constabulary’s Serious Fraud and Cyber Unit, whilst the Victim Support Team worked with the victim. Following a referral to the Financial Ombudsman, the victim was refunded in full by their bank.
Detective Inspector Pete Hankins, from the Serious Fraud and Cyber Unit, said: “We have seen a reduction in the number of reports of this type of courier fraud over the last year, but we believe there is still a significant number of residents who are being targeted by this type of scam.
“Fraudsters use different stories to convince people they are genuine, the important thing to remember is that police officers or bank staff would never ask for people’s bank details, like a PIN, or for cash to be handed over. You should never give your bank details to anyone. Usually the intended victim realises the call is not genuine and refuses to part with their details or cash. However, these fraudsters can be very persuasive and insistent, which has resulted in some people falling victim to this scam and subsequently losing thousands of pounds from their accounts.”
If you receive a call you’re not expecting, you should be suspicious. The vital things to remember are that your bank and the police would:
NEVER ask for your bank account details or PIN number over the phone, so do not disclose these to anyone, no matter who they claim to be.
NEVER ask you to withdraw money and send it to them via a courier, taxi or by any other means.
NEVER ask you to send your bank cards, or any other personal property, to them via courier, taxi or by any other means.
If you are not happy with a phone call and are suspicious of the conversation you have with the caller then please end the call and dial 101 or report online.
Remember, when reporting a suspicious phone call to police, wait at least five minutes before attempting to make the call to ensure you’re not reconnected to the offender.
Alternatively, use a mobile phone or test your landline by phoning a friend or relative first, to ensure you aren’t still unwittingly connected to the offender.
If you have concerns about your bank account, visit your local branch.
How to protect yourself
Remember to follow the above advice. In addition to this, some phone companies offer call screening services that can be effective in blocking marketing cold calls and bogus callers. Contact your phone company and ask about call screening and caller display services.
How can you help?
Please share this information with your older relatives and friends: this crime has a devastating effect on people, and we need to raise awareness to prevent further people becoming victims.
Report any calls you believe are suspicious as we may be able to trace where the calls are originating from. Please remember, to wait at least five minutes before calling police or use a mobile or neighbour’s phone.
Report suspicious activity at cash points. If you see someone spending a long time at a cashpoint, using a number of different cards and have a hood up or their faces covered, contact police immediately. Often offenders will use cashpoints in the early hours.