Elderly victims being targeted
Devon and Cornwall Police received two reports on Tuesday 23 July, of elderly residents being the target of telephone scams, with fraudsters working in the area.
Fraudsters are contacting victims by telephone and purporting to be a police officer or bank official.
To substantiate this claim, the caller might be able to confirm some easily obtainable basic details about the victim such as their full name and address.
They may also offer a telephone number for the victim to call to check they are genuine; this number is not genuine and simply redirects to the fraudsters who pretend to be a different person.
After some trust has been established, the fraudster will then, for example, suggest;
Some money has been removed from a victim’s bank account and staff at their local bank branch are responsible;
Suspects have already been arrested but the ‘police’ need money for evidence.
Today’s victims, a lady in her 80s from the Exeter area, and a man in his 70s from the Liskeard area, were contacted by someone pretending to be from the Serious Fraud Office, Scotland Yard, by the name of John Collins.
He stated that someone had used their account details to buy items online.
The fraudsters frightened the victims into believing their money was at risk and not to trust anyone in the bank.
They were told to withdraw nearly £10,000, as well as various amounts of foreign currency, from their personal accounts and hand them to a man called Martin Johnson working for the police; the courier.
It is often the case, to reassure the victim, a ‘safe word’ might be communicated to the victim so the courier appears genuine.
At the time of handover, unsuspecting victims are promised the money they’ve handed over will be reimbursed, but, in reality, there is no further contact and the money is never seen again.
Both victims have been safeguarded and no money has been paid out to the criminals.
The public are reminded that these fraudsters are highly professional in their approach and incredibly convincing. The best way to prevent these scams is to make everyone aware.
Remember, your bank or the police will never:
Phone and ask for your PIN or full banking password;
Ask you to withdraw money to hand over to them for safe-keeping, or send someone to your home to collect cash, PIN, cards or cheque books if you are a victim of fraud;
Don’t assume an email or phone call is authentic just because someone knows your basic details (such as your name and address or even your mother’s maiden name), it doesn’t mean they are genuine;
Be mindful of who you trust – criminals may try and trick you into their confidence by telling you that you’ve been a victim of fraud.
Stay in control – if something feels wrong, then it is usually right to question it. Have the confidence to refuse unusual requests for personal or financial information.
Please note that this message was sent by Devon and Cornwall Police.