Fake police officer scams Lancashire woman into handing over £13,000 cash
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It happened on Thursday (October 7) when a man posing as an officer from Lancashire Police called the elderly woman on her mobile phone.
Using the name PC Alex Hunter and sporting a fake collar number (4144), the wicked fraudster tricked a Blackburn woman in her 80s into handing over £13,000 in cash.
The man said he needed the pensioner to withdraw cash from her bank as part of a fraud investigation into money laundering. The woman went to the bank and made two withdrawals before taking the cash home.
She then left the cash outside in a plastic bag to be collected, as instructed by the caller.
A man, posing as a courier, arrived to collect the money from her home in the Bank Top area of Blackburn for two separate pickups, one around 12noon and another around 3.30pm.
He is described as an Asian man wearing grey coloured traditional clothing and a blue woollen hat.
Lancashire Police say it is the third case in a week where elderly and vulnerable victims in Lancashire have had money stolen from them in this way.
Detectives say two other known victims have also handed over more than £10,000 in cash to men posing as officers since in the past week.
What has happened?
The first incident happened on Monday (October 4) when a woman in her 80s from Hyndburn received a phone call from a man claiming to be a Lancashire Police officer named 'DC 4144 Alex Hunter' who was investigating a bank giving out fake notes to elderly customers.
He has then asked the victim to go to the bank, withdraw £4,000 and inform him of the serial numbers so he could check whether they were fake before having a man posing as a courier to go to the victim’s house in the Fielding Street area of Rishton to collect the cash.
He is described as wearing dark clothing.
A second pensioner was duped on Tuesday (October 5) when a woman in her 60s from Lancaster received a phone call from a man again claiming to be a Lancashire Police officer, this time named 'Insp Paul Stewart'.
He claimed to be investigating a similar fraud. He asked the victim to go to the bank, withdraw £6,500 and leave it outside her front door under a plant pot to be collected by a ‘courier’.
He is also described as wearing dark clothing and aged in his 20s.
What do Lancashire Police say?
Officers from the economic crime unit have launched an investigation and want to remind the public that police officers will never ask you for money.
DI Mark Riley said: "In the past we have successfully intercepted incidents of courier fraud but this week there were unfortunately two incidents in Lancashire where victims have sadly handed over large sums of cash to their 'couriers'.
"These fraudsters are very convincing and will say all the right things to gain your trust, but they are not real police officers.
"A police officer or detective will never cold call you at home or on your mobile to ask you to collect money from a bank or for any of your personal financial details.
"The police, or the bank, or any other organisation for that matter, will never phone you and ask you to withdraw funds for inspection.
"They will never ask you to transfer funds to a safe account and they will also never send someone to collect cash, pins, cards or cheque books either.
"We would also never ask you to keep an investigation a secret from your family members or friends. This is the first major warning sign for people to look out for.
"If you are asked not to tell anyone about a phone call, let that be a signal to you that you need to end that call and get in touch with someone you trust to get their advice."
What you should do if you get a scam call asking for money
DI Mark Riley says: "Have the confidence to ask for help and terminate any phone call where you are being asked for money.
"If you get a phone call from someone saying they are from the police or the bank do not provide your account details or hand over any cash.
"End the call and leave the phone line clear for several minutes so that when you make another call the fraudster isn’t still on the line.
"May I also ask that local taxi firms and courier firms are conscious of these offences and if they are not happy about collecting items from elderly victims then they should question this and if necessary call 101.
"These are unscrupulous offenders with no morals and are only interested in bringing misery to their victims.
"Please be aware of this highly sophisticated and devastating scam. Scammers target elderly and vulnerable people, so please make your loved ones aware.
"If you do receive a call, immediately report the matter to the police as soon as possible."
Anyone with information on the above case can contact 101 quoting 0278 of October 8.
For help and advice about how you can stay safe from scammers visit Action Fraud.