Courier fraud is predominantly a telephone crime, where the victim receives a call from someone whom they believe to be in a position of authority, such as a Police Officer or bank official, and a courier is sent to the victim to collect cash, a bank card, or other items, as arranged. 

It will be started by the fraudster posing as the official and building up a relationship with the victim. This is done by offering information that the victim can see could have come from an official source, such as full name and address. The victim may have already given that information away themselves, or the fraudster will have obtained a database that contains their name and address, which is how they were targeted in the first place. The fraudster then asks for help.

Everyone wants to be helpful and if the fraudster is pretending to be from the Police, they might want your help to catch a criminal or, if a bank official, they might be trying to find corrupt staff. In that situation, everyone would want to help, it’s in our nature to be helpful, but this is how we get sucked in.

Remember this is all on the phone where you can’t see the body language of the other person and they are relying on tone of voice and their questions being enticing.

Research Google on how to make a good sales’ call and it will give you lots of ideas of tactics they might use, which you can then use as tell-tale signs.

Here are some specific examples of what fraudsters might say:

  • Bank card expiry: Fraudsters claim to be from the victim’s bank and say their card is no longer valid. They ask for the pin number and then send a “courier” to collect the card before using it for fraudulent purposes.
  • Purchasing high end items: The fraudsters pretend to be Police Officers and ask the victim to help with an undercover operation by purchasing expensive items like watches, jewellery and gold. Once the item is bought, the fraudster will send a courier to collect the items.
  • Counterfeit cash/bank investigation: A person claiming to be a Police or banking official informs the victim that they need to help with a banking corruption investigation. The victim is told to withdraw a large amount of money and the cash is picked up later by a courier to “check for fingerprints” or to “identify counterfeit bank notes”.
  • Computer takeover: The fraudster telephones the victim, purporting to be from their internet service provider, saying that they have had an issue with their internet connectivity, and they are due compensation. The victim is persuaded to download a remote access application, giving the suspects access to their home computers. The fraudster persuades the victims into thinking that they have been paid too much compensation and the victims then withdraw cash to pay the money back, which is later collected by a courier.

Things to look out for:

  • Courier fraud usually starts with an unsolicited telephone call to the victim.
  • Typically, the fraudster will pose as a bank official or Police Officer, but it could also be a computer or utility engineer.
  • Courier fraudsters will usually request the victim purchases high value items such as Rolex watch and gold bullion, withdraws cash or provides a bank card for collection all of which will be collected by a “courier”.
  • Fraudsters will instruct victims to not tell any family or friends about what they are doing.
  • When carrying out courier fraud, criminals will request the victim hangs up the phone to ring their bank for confirmation while keeping the line open. The fraudster then purports to be a bank official and provides false confirmation.
  • Fraudsters will also make arrangements for a courier to meet the victim to collect the item they have purchased.

Finally, just to recap.

There are some simple steps that we can remember, banks or the Police:

  • Will never call to verify personal details.
  • They will not call and ask you for your pin.
  • They will not send a courier to collect your bank card.
  • Do not hand your bank card over to anyone or tell anyone your pin.
  • They will not ask you to purchase items for them.
  • Won’t tell you not to tell anyone including friends and family.

If you do want to make a call to verify them, follow these simple steps:

  • Do not use a number they have provided for you, do your own research, use a number you already have for your bank or call 101 for the Police.
  • If they called in on a landline, wait 5 – 10 minutes before you make your call and make sure you have a dial tone on the landline phone.
  • Use another phone such as your mobile phone or use a partner mobile.