26/02/2015 - Permalink

#ItsAScam – courier fraud awareness day

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News from our partners West Mercia Police and Warwickshire Police

Courier fraud scams are being highlighted as part of awareness day across the West Mercia Police and Warwickshire Police alliance.

Following on from a spate of incidents over the past year, today’s (Thursday 26 February 2015) day of action focuses on targeting the often elderly and vulnerable victims of this crime, and making sure they are aware of the scam.

In the past year, a total of 205 offences have been reported.  Fortunately in  the majority of instances, the victims have realised this is a scam call, and have hung up without handing over any personal details, but in some instances the victims have been conned into handing over often substantial amounts of money.  In 25 instances offenders have been able to obtain bank details; of these, on 19 occasions the offenders have been able to obtain and use bank cards.  Victims have been scammed out of more than £27,000 in total.

Typically the scammers will call landlines to pretend that they are from the police, and will state the victim’s card has been used fraudulently.  They will then ask their victims to call their bank to cancel their cards, but will in fact remain on the line in order to obtain bank details.

Once they have got these details, often including a PIN, they will then send a courier to collect the bank card, allowing them to then withdraw money from the victim’s accounts. On some occasions the callers have asked the victims to provide a password to the courier to make it appear more genuine.

During the day of action Safer Neighbourhood Teams will be distributing posters and leaflets in communities, particularly in areas frequented by elderly people.  Advice will be shared through West Mercia Police and Warwickshire Police’s social media accounts using the #ItsAScam hashtag, aimed not only at potential victims of the scam, but to encourage people to make elderly friends and relatives aware.

West Mercia Police and Warwickshire Police are offering the following advice:

  • Please remember police officers and banks will never ask for account details or PINs over the phone.  They also would not come around to your house to collect your cards or property
  • We would encourage anyone with elderly relatives or friends to talk to them about this scam, and make sure that they are aware
  • If you receive a call like this, hang up immediately and call 101 using another phone.  In an emergency, or if a crime is in progress, call 999.
  • We have found that on a number of occasions, people with common surnames such as Smith, Thomas and Williams have been targeted.  If you or any friends or relatives common surnames, please be especially cautious.
  • In some instances the scammers have said that the amount taken from the bank is higher than the allowable amount.  Be aware of what the maximum is that you can withdraw from your bank, and see it as a warning sign if the caller states that more has been taken.

DCI Sean Paley said:

“This is such a distasteful crime because it usually targets those who are isolated, living alone and vulnerable.  If you are ever called by somebody pretending to be from the police or bank, don’t divulge your details.  Remember, the police and the bank would never ask for this information.

“West Mercia Police and Warwickshire Police are carrying out in-depth investigations into these incidents, and a number of arrests have been made.  We would encourage people to think about their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles or any other elderly friends or relatives, and make sure that they know how to avoid this scam.”

Mavis, 81, from north Warwickshire, was a victim of this scam.  She said:

“The phone rang and a voice said he was a pol iceman and that my cards had been scammed.  Total shock and disbelief set in.  I went to use my mobile to phone my banks emergency number, and then went back to my landline which was a mistake, a big one.

“What I didn’t appreciate at the time was that the line was still open.  The criminals still had control of it.  They sounded genuine.  I had no suspicions that it wasn’t a genuine bank emergency number. There was nothing to give me any indication that they were criminals. They told me to put my cards in an envelope and they would send a courier.  I was confronted by a young man and as soon as I handed the cards over I realised I had done something stupid.  They took £500 from my credit card.  If anyone said to me I would be scammed I would say rubbish.  If you get a call like this, put your phone down and go to your mobile ring the police or the bank.  If you don’t have a mobile, go to a neighbour.”

For more information, visit our website.  Please follow the campaign on social media using the #ItsAScam.