Police are urging residents in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight to remain vigilant following 17 reports of courier fraud since the start of August – with one couple losing £70,000.
This type of fraud typically sees a victim receive an unexpected call from someone who purports to be a police officer, a staff member from their local bank, or an employee from an internet or phone provider. Recent reports of this in Hampshire have involved people claiming to be police officers from London.
They then tell the victim that their account has been subject to fraudulent activity and then request that the victim helps with the ongoing investigation, with this involving:
• Being asked for details about their financial accounts and bank cards
• Being sent to their bank to withdraw money, or being asked to buy high value goods
• Granting the caller access to their computer or phone, by downloading an application.
Victims are then told to hand over money or an expensive item to a fraudulent courier, who will typically come to their home to collect it.
They are also encouraged not to discuss this with any friends, family or bank staff.
Since the beginning of August, officers have received 17 reports of courier fraud. Some of the offences have resulted in victims losing more than £10,000, while the largest loss has been £70,000.
Officers are urging people to not engage with these type of calls. Victims are typically elderly and officers are asking anyone with an elderly relative, loved one, friend or associate to please make them aware of this scam.
Some recent examples of reports include:
It was reported that a man in his 80s in the Blackwater area had been scammed out of £8,000, after a suspect visited his home address on Wednesday 23 August.
The victim had previously received a phone call from someone claiming to be a police at a London police station, who told him his cards had been cloned and he needed to withdraw money from two bank accounts for collection.
On Thursday 24 August, we received a report that a woman in her 80s, from Minstead in the New Forest, had been called by someone purporting to be a police officer from London.
The man told her he was investigating forged bank notes and requested that she visit various banks and stores in Southampton to withdraw money, keeping her on the line as she did so. The money, the total of which has not yet been confirmed, was later collected by a courier.
On Sunday 27 August, we received a report that a man and a woman in their 70s from Gosport had been scammed out of £70,000 by a man claiming to be a police officer from London.
They were told that their bank cards had been used in fraudulent activity involving counterfeit bank notes and that they needed to withdraw a large amount of money to assist with the investigation.
A man then visited their address on a number of occasions to collect the money, which the couple had been told was counterfeit.
On Monday 28 August, we received a report that a couple in their 80s from New Milton had been scammed out of £13,500 in similar circumstances.
Officers are investigating all of the incidents and our enquiries are ongoing.
Detective Constable Michael Dumbleton, from the Economic Crime Unit, said: “These fraudsters are heartless individuals who prey on some of the most vulnerable people living in our area.
“Victims of courier fraud can be any age, but are typically aged between 70 and 89 and I would urge everyone who has an elderly relative to make them aware of this type of fraud as soon as possible.
“These incidents can often have a huge impact on victims as they come to terms with the fact they have fallen for a scam, and the financial losses that come with it.
“We do not want anyone to fall victim to these scammers and we are taking steps to inform residents of courier fraud; so that they are aware of this type of contact and can avoid becoming a victim.
“If anyone receives a call of this nature, they should not engage with the caller and hang up.
“We are wholly committed to investigating offences of this nature and will take steps to identify and bring those individuals responsible to justice.”
Please remember that:
• Police officers, banks and other organisations such as HMRC will never call people in this way and ask you to withdraw money or disclose personal or financial information. If someone does do this, please hang up – it will be a scam.
• If someone calls claiming to be a police officer, ask for their ID number and police force. Wait at least five minutes before verifying details with the appropriate Force by calling 101 – do not use any number they provide unless you can confirm it as genuine. Ensure the call has disconnected as scammers will often leave the line open or use another phone altogether. A genuine police officer will not mind waiting while you check their identity (it’s a sign that it is a scam if the person becomes pushy or stresses urgency).
• Take a step back from everything and take a few moments to think. Speak to a trusted friend or relative for their opinion before agreeing to anything. The fraudster’s tactic is often to keep the victim busy talking and isolated. They stress that they should not tell anyone else about the call.
• Your bank or the police will never send a courier to your home to collect cash, bank cards, PINs or other valuable goods.
• If you are a friend, relative or carer of someone you think might be vulnerable to this type of scam, please speak to them about this advice. You might be the only person who can stop them from being scammed.
If you or someone you know has been a victim of fraud, report it to us by calling 101. If a crime is in progress, dial 999.
You can make yourself aware of this type of scam and how to protect yourself by visiting the Action Fraud website (https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/) or by calling them on 0300 123 2040.