You may recall earlier this month we warned of ‘courier fraud’ scams where fraudsters pose as a police officer or bank official to persuade their often elderly and vulnerable victims to hand over large amounts of cash.
We have been made aware of seven separate instances where people across Cambridgeshire have lost almost £88,000 to courier fraud this month alone.
In six out of the seven instances this month, the fraudster has cold-called the victim by telephone posing as a police officer claiming they had someone in custody as part of a fraud investigation.
The bogus officer told the victim there was an issue with their bank account or requested their assistance with an ongoing investigation. The ultimate aim of the call being to lure the victim into withdrawing cash from their bank and later handing over money to a courier.
On the other occasion the fraudster has claimed to be from the tax office, claiming the victim owed in excess of £10,000 and would be arrested if they didn’t pay the outstanding balance. In this instance the victim was told to hand over cash and also purchase thousands of pounds worth of Amazon vouchers from a supermarket.
Criminals are increasingly turning to vouchers as a method of obtaining funds since these are much more difficult to trace than banking transactions.
Between 18 and 26 January five victims in the East Cambs area lost a total of £78,500 and on two occasions in Peterborough, on 8 and 24 January, two people lost a combined £9,000.
This recent spate of courier fraud is appalling and must be stopped. Not only is the financial detriment significant, these crimes often have a devastating impact on the health and wellbeing of the victims and their families.
Whilst the latest reported incidents are all in the same two areas, it is likely the scammers are working through a list organised by postcode and therefore there is a strong chance this scam will appear in other areas too. We urge residents to please be vigilant to this and pass the message on so others can be vigilant too.
Please remember your bank and the police would:
• Never ask for your bank account details or PIN over the phone
• Never ask you to withdraw money and send it to them
• Never ask you to send them your bank cards or any other personal property
Further information about courier fraud can be found on our website here http://bit.ly/35W0NYB.
If you are suspicious about a telephone conversation you should end the call and contact us via our non-emergency number, 101. Ideally use a mobile phone or a friend’s phone or wait at least five minutes before calling to ensure you aren’t reconnected to the offender.
To report an incident in action or if you are in immediate danger always call 999.
Community groups and individuals are invited to become a registered supporter of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Against Scams Partnership. Supporters receive information about the latest scams and funding or training opportunities and are provided with resources to increase scams awareness in their local community. For more information visit www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/against-scams or contact Charlotte Homent on 01954 284635.
Our Cyber Security Advisor is available to present to different community groups on how to protect themselves from scams. Enquiries should be made via email to CyberProtectCambs@cambs.pnn.police.uk.
Please help us spread this message as far and wide as possible to prevent further losses to those in our community.
Message Sent By
Lauren Alexander (Police, Senior Communications Officer, Cambridgeshire Constabulary)