Residents urged to be vigilant following spate of courier fraud incidents

Alert message sent 20/10/2020 15:13:00

Information sent on behalf of Wiltshire Police

Residents in East Wiltshire are being urged to be vigilant following a spate of incidents of courier fraud. 

Courier fraud occurs when a fraudster contacts victims by telephone purporting to be a police officer or bank official. To gain a victim’s trust, the caller might be able to confirm some easily obtainable personal details such as their full name and address. The caller might then suggest money has been removed from their account by mistake, police need money for evidence or even need the victim to purchase an item of high price ‘evidence’.

Victims are asked to co-operate in an investigation and withdraw money from their bank, foreign currency from an exchange or handing over the expensive item to a ‘courier’ for examination. The collector of which will be a fraudster.

One incident occurred on October 13 – a 90-year-old woman from Great Bedwyn received a call from a fraudster claiming to be from Hammersmith Police Fraud Unit. He claimed her bank cards had been reproduced and encouraged her to hand over £2,200 to a courier who attended her home address.

On the same day, an 85-year-old man in Aldbourne was contacted by phone by a man claiming to be from Hammersmith Police who informed the man of a bank fraud which required him to withdraw £3,000 – the man hung up and called the police. 

In another incident, a 90-year-old woman in Wootton Rivers was contacted by a man claiming to be from the Met Police advising her about money laundering and urged her to empty her account. The woman withdrew £3,000 and handed the money over to a man who attended her address. 

And on October 19, an 82-year-old man in Devizes was called by a fraudster claiming to be a police officer – they instructed him to withdraw £4,600 which he did before handing it over to a courier who called at his address. 

PC Emily Grigor said: “Officers are working closely with bank managers in the area to ensure protocol is followed when incidents of this nature occur and that police are informed immediately. 

“We’d like to take this opportunity to remind the public that banks, police officers and other professionals will never contact you to ask for you to assist with investigations, withdraw money or purchase expensive items. 

“Understandably, victims of this type of crime can feel extremely upset and sometimes embarrassed once they are aware they have fallen victim to a fraudulent phone call.  We know that those who commit this type of crime can seem highly credible and they can be very convincing but it is really important that you remain suspicious and vigilant. If something doesn’t seem right, hang up immediately but do not use the same landline phone to call your bank or police as the fraudsters will keep the line open and will remain on the phone without you realising.

“We’d also urge relatives and friends of those who may be vulnerable to this type of crime to initiate a conversation with them about courier fraud, how it works, and how convincing these fraudsters can be so that we can ensure they do not fall victim to this crime.”

To report a crime of this nature, call 101 or 999. Alternatively, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. 
Message sent by
Katie Bond (Police, Media Officer, Wiltshire)

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