Fraud detectives are reminding people to beware of criminals posing as police officers who ask for financial details over the phone.
There have been a number of incidents during October in which elderly and vulnerable people have been asked to hand over their bank cards, cash or personal information in order to assist with bogus investigations.
A courier is then sent to the victim’s address to collect the money or items, often travelling via taxi. Sometimes a taxi is sent to the victim’s home so they can be taken to a nearby bank to withdraw their savings.
On Thursday 29 October a vulnerable resident of Otford, near Sevenoaks, handed over his bank cards and PIN to a man after being told over the phone there had been an attempt to steal cash from his bank account. Within hours the cards had been used to withdraw more than £2,000 cash and purchase more than £600 worth of goods from a retail store.
The same day an elderly woman, also from Otford, was visited by a man who asked for her bank cards after she had earlier disclosed her PIN over the phone. However, she grew suspicious and closed the door on him, and the man left after she contacted Kent Police.
A Dartford resident received a similar call on Wednesday 21 October from somebody asking questions about his National Insurance number. He initially hung up but was tricked by the fraudsters when they changed their caller ID to a legitimate Kent Police number and phoned him back. After being asked to withdraw money from his bank account he first attended his local police station to double-check the information and was told it was a scam.
Detective Sergeant Marc Cananur of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate said: ‘While it is encouraging that many potential victims are now growing wise to the ways in which such criminals operate, the high volume of reports we are receiving demonstrates that those responsible are not giving up and that they are unfortunately successful on occasion.
‘It remains as important as ever that we all continue to look out for our neighbours and family members, especially those who may be elderly or vulnerable, and ensure they are aware of the appalling lengths offenders will go to in order to steal their hard-earned savings.
‘The banks are doing a good job in engaging with those who attempt to withdraw large sums of money and in reporting their concerns to the police. We would also appeal to taxi drivers to keep their eyes and ears open, and to let us know of anyone who might be collecting packages from elderly people in suspicious circumstances, or if their passenger has been taken to a bank in order to withdraw vast sums of money.
‘A police officer will never ask someone to withdraw money or hand over their bank cards. Anyone who does receive a suspicious telephone call of this nature should hang up, wait five minutes to ensure the line is clear, and then call 101 to check the credentials of the person who called.
‘Finally, remember the ABC rule to help protect yourself and others against fraud – never Assume someone is telling the truth, never Believe what they say unless you are confident they are who they say they are, and always Confirm the details they have provided.’