Elderly residents in Devon and Cornwall are being urged to be wise to a phone fraud where victims are being duped out of cash by people posing as police.
Devon and Cornwall Police has recorded 48 of these offences since last December with unsuspecting victims being defrauded of sums between £4,000 and £39,000.
The offenders are targeting older people across the Force, particularly in the Torbay and South Devon area, as part of a national scam which is commonly known as a ‘courier fraud’.
In many cases a person claiming to be a police officer from the Metropolitan Police will contact an elderly or vulnerable victim by telephone and inform them that their bank card has been used fraudulently.
The name DC Adams from Hammersmith police station is commonly given. The victim will then be tricked into thinking they are being put through to their bank. The victim will then disclose banking information and will be instructed to attend the local branch of their bank to withdraw a sum of money and pass it to either a local taxi firm or to a courier sent by fraudsters.
Often elderly victims are unwittingly defrauded of their entire life savings, being left distraught and traumatised in many cases.
Over the last few weeks the number of offences has escalated, with Devon and Cornwall Police receiving numerous reports from victims across the Force area.
In March in North Devon a Bideford couple were duped out of £39,000. Four incidents were recorded in Paignton on Thursday 24 April with two victims alone having parted with more than £12,000 each.
The fraudsters also targeted three homes in Torbay on Saturday 26 April but the householders were wise to the scam following previous police warnings.
Detectives are working with local banks/buildings societies and taxi firms as part of the investigation into the fraud and are urging anyone else who may have been a victim to come forward.
They are also repeating warnings to the public, particularly older residents, not to go along with the scam and to report any attempts to police.
Detective Superintendent Ken Lamont said: “This is a national problem which has reached Devon and Cornwall. The extent of these offences is still to be fully ascertained but they are across the Force, being most prevalent in Torbay and the south Devon areas.
“This is a heartless and callous fraud with the offenders targeting elderly and vulnerable people who are trusting and willing to help who they think are bona fide police officers.”
“We are urging the public, particularly older people, to be aware of this fraud and not to go along with it. Genuine police would not phone members of the public in this way and certainly would never ask you for your bank details or ask you to send money.
“Because of the nature of the fraud and the vulnerable victims involved it is believed this offence is currently under-reported, therefore we would urge the public to come forward and tell us if they have been contacted by these people.
“We appeal to members of the public, banks and taxi drivers to be on their guard and report any suspicious activity of this nature to the police immediately.”
If you receive a phone call of this nature, police advise you to:
• End the phone call immediately. Wait at least five minutes to clear the line from the scammer before making any other calls, or use another phone.
• Report the offence as soon as possible to police by telephoning 101.
• Your bank will never attend your home.
• Your bank and the police will never collect your bank card or cash
• Your bank and the police will never ask for your PIN.
Anyone with any information about this fraud can contact police
on 101, quoting Op Fardel crime reference JN/14/932.