Police have issued a warning after pensioners were targeted by telephone fraudsters last night (July 23). The elderly victims were asked to hand over nearly £10,000 in cash to a courier.
Devon and Cornwall Police say they received two reports of elderly residents being targeted by the scammers.
Officers warn, fraudsters are working in the area.
“Crooks are contacting victims by telephone and purporting to be a police officer or bank official,” a police spokesperson said in a statement. “To substantiate this claim, the caller might be able to confirm some easily obtainable basic details about the victim, such as their full name and address.
“They may also offer a telephone number for the victim to call to check they are genuine; this number is not genuine and simply redirects to the fraudtsers who pretend to be a different person.”
After gaining a victim’s trust, the scammer may tell the victim that money has been removed from their bank account and that staff at their local bank branch are responsible.
They may also suggest that the suspects have already been arrested but the ‘police’ need money for evidence.
Last night’s victims, a lady in her 80s and a man in his 70s, were contacted by someone pretending to be from the Serious Fraud Office at Scotland Yard. They gave the name John Collins.
Police say the man stated that someone had used the victims’ account details to buy items online.
The spokesman said: “The fraudsters frightened the victims into believing their money was at risk and not to trust anyone in the bank. They were told to withdraw nearly £10,00, as well as various amounts of foreign currency, from their personal accounts and hand them to a man called Martin Johnson.”
Sometimes, a fraudster will communicate a ‘safe word’ to the victim so the courier appears genuine.
At the time of handover, unsuspecting victims are promised the money they’ve handed over will be reimbursed but in reality there is no further contact and the money is never seen again.
Last night’s victims have been safeguarded and no money has been paid out to the criminals.
How to beat the fraudsters
Police have issued a reminder that your bank or the police will never:
- Phone and ask for your PIN or full banking password.
- Ask you to withdraw money to hand over to them for safe-keeping, or send someone to your home to collect cash, PIN, cards or cheque books if you are a victim of fraud.
The spokesperson added: “Don’t assume an email or phone call is authentic Just because someone knows your basic details (such as your name and address or even your mother’s maiden name), it doesn’t mean they are genuine.
“Be mindful of who you trust – criminals may try and trick you into their confidence by telling you that you’ve been a victim of fraud.”