Warning To Be Vigilant After Spike In “Courier Fraud” 15/01/2015 10:53:12 [99004]

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Tom Jennings (Police, Communications Officer, Thames Valley Police)

Thames Valley Police is warning the public to be vigilant after another spike in “courier fraud” in the Cherwell area.
Courier fraud is when a victim is asked by an offender, pretending to be from their bank or the police, to withdraw money. The offender then hires a courier or taxi to pick up the money from the victim.
There was a spate of offences in Cherwell in 2014, with 37 attempts and six successful courier frauds, and, since the start of 2015, there has been a re-emergence in the Banbury area, with three attempts and one successful fraud.
Offenders target vulnerable members of society, including the elderly, and for this reason the incidents have been described by a senior officer as a “sickening”.
The successful courier fraud since the start of this year took place in Bretch Hill, Banbury.
The victim, who is in his 80s, was contacted at about 4.30pm on Thursday (8/1) by a man claiming to be a Detective Inspector at Leighton Buzzard police station.
The victim was told his card had been cloned and had been used to purchase items totaling £3,700.
The next day, the same fraudster phoned the victim stating that police had put counterfeit money into his bank accounts as part of the investigation.
The fraudster asked the victim to withdraw £5,000 from two accounts, which the victim did.. A courier then picked up the £10,000 from the victim’s house later that day.
Courier fraud normally involves the following:
Vulnerable members of the public receive an unsolicited phone call from the fraudster, who purports to be from the police or the victim’s bank, stating that their systems have spotted fraudulent activity on the victim’s account or accounts.
The victim may then be asked to ring the bank or police back on a genuine number – 999 or 101, for example. This helps convince the victim that the call is genuine. But the fraudster keeps the telephone line open so, even though the person calls the bank or police, the call does not go through. Instead, they are unknowingly connected straight back to the fraudster.
There are many variations to the next stage of the scam, but one of the most prevalent is that the fraudster then requests that the victim assists the police investigation by withdrawing a large sum of money from their bank and taking it home.
A courier will then attend the victim’s home and collect the package containing the cash. These couriers are normally local taxi drivers or courier companies who have been asked by the fraudster to collect the package on their behalf.
If you receive such a call from fraudsters, end it immediately.
In order to clear your line from the scammer, wait at least five minutes before making any calls. Alternatively, call the police from another phone line.
Do not hand over any money or other items a result of this type of phone call, and report the incident to your local police immediately.
Det Sgt James Bonner, from Banbury Local CID, said: “This type of crime is sickening and deliberately targets the elderly and vulnerable members of our community, who are often duped into handing over their life savings to these criminals.
“It is vital that members of the public are aware of this re-emerging scam to prevent further victims, and follow the crime prevention advice we have issued.
“Police officers or banks will never ask you to withdraw cash or handover bank cards and PIN numbers. If you or elderly family members receive these types of call, immediately report it to your local police station, ideally in person.”