Hertfordshire phone scam victims lose more than £100,000
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Scammers posing as police officers have stolen more than £100,000 from residents so far this month.
The residents were contacted via phone by someone claiming to be a police officer, investigating fraudulent activity on the victim’s bank account. The fraudsters then ask their victims to withdraw cash and post it or pass it to a courier arranged by the scammer. Some victims were persuaded to hand over banking details allowing the fraudsters to gain access to the bank accounts and transfer the money.
The scammers use a variety of stories to convince their victims and methods to ‘prove’ they are genuine, even telling the victims to call 999 to check their identity. One Letchworth resident in their 90s lost £63,000 following a call from a bogus detective from ‘Hammersmith Police’.
Senior Beacon Fraud Hub Manager, Elaine Crate, said: “This is one of the most common scams and the fraudsters tend to target older residents, all of those targeted over the last week were aged 70 or over. If you have elderly or vulnerable friends or relatives speak to them about this scam so they aren’t fooled.
“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’re having 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.