Officers executed search warrants this morning at addresses on Azalea Road, Waterloo Close and Moorgate Street in the town.
Following the raids two men, aged 37 and 47, from Blackburn were arrested on suspicion of fraud by false representation and money laundering and a 48-year old man, also from Blackburn, was arrested on suspicion of fraud and forgery. They are all currently in custody.
An investigation was launched in November 2021, codenamed Operation Fardel, following reports of courier fraud from across the country dating back to summer 2020.
There were hundreds of reports of attempts of courier fraud nationally, and 30 people in total have reported financial losses, with losses totalling £650,000. In most cases the victims have managed to secure their money back via the bank.
In one case, an elderly woman from Tarleton had £200,000 stolen when a fraudster purporting to be from her bank telephoned requesting her bank details as part of a fraud investigation. She was also asked to purchase goods and leave them on her doorstep for them to be collected by a man posing as a courier.
Our investigation, which brought together intelligence from police forces from across the country, traced mobile phone records and CCTV to identify the addresses in Blackburn as being connected to the reports.
Items seized following this morning’s raids included a number of mobile phones, laptops and iPads.
Det Insp Mark Riley from Lancashire Police Economic Crime Unit said: “Victims of courier fraud are caught off guard by expert criminals who use ruthless tactics to convince victims to act immediately putting pressure on them. Anyone is susceptible to this and it isn’t just financially damaging, it also leaves victims with emotional scars.
“Our investigation has seen some significant losses from our most vulnerable victims. The offending has occurred countrywide and this series of warrants will look to go some way to getting closure for some of those victims while preventing any further losses.”
The raids follow a week of action as part of the Home Office’s Project Plutus, aimed at disrupting organised crime networks of fraudsters across the country.
During the week of action, we seized £250,000 as part of a long-running investigation into money laundering in Blackpool.
Lancashire Police & Crime Commissioner Andrew Snowden added: “It was great to join officers out on our streets in Blackburn who were doing what the public wants to see, cracking down on crime and targeting criminals who manipulate their victims and destroy lives.
“Tackling fraudsters who take advantage of often the most vulnerable people need to know that we’re coming for them and will take them off the streets.”