Preston pensioner scammed out of £3,500 during 'courier fraud' by fake police officer calling himself PC Martin Langley
Police chiefs are becoming increasingly concerned at the rise of courier fraud.
The latest incident happened in Preston where a woman in her 80s was contacted by a man claiming to be from Lancashire Constabulary.
He gave his name as PC Martin Langley, collar number 0144, telling the victim her bank account had been targeted by scammers.
The caller instructed the victim to go to the bank and withdraw €3,500 claiming it was needed as evidence. When she returned, a man visited her home address in the Hutton area at around 5.30pm to collect the cash.
The man, posing as a courier, gave the victim a pre-approved codeword in an attempt to validate his credibility. He is described as Asian, around 20 years old, of slim build, wearing a navy jacket and dark coloured trousers.
Earlier in the week two other elderly women, also from Preston, reported receiving phone calls from a fraudster claiming there had been suspicious activity on their bank cards at Asda.
Thankfully, one victim terminated the call before disclosing bank or credit card information and another victim was refused an attempted transaction at the bank.
DI Mark Riley from Lancashire Police Economic Crime Unit said: “Lancashire has suffered a spike in courier fraud in the last three weeks with nine reported losses and more than 25 attempts. The total loss is estimated to be more than £35,000.
“Victims are often elderly and caught off guard by expert criminals who are using ruthless tactics to convince victims to act immediately and putting pressure on them. This coupled with imitating police officers is what is making people believe the lies being fed to them. Anyone is susceptible to this and it isn’t just financially damaging, it is also leaves victims with emotional scars.
“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 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.”
"First and foremost, we want to make it clear that there is no officer employed by Lancashire Police with the collar number 0144.
"If you or your loved one or friend receives a phone call from an individual using this collar number we advise that you terminate the call straight away and contact the genuine police on 101.
"If you ever receive a phone call from somebody stating they are a police officer and you are unsure they are who they are claiming to be, you can terminate the call and ring 101 and check that their name and collar number is genuine.
"Always ensure that you hear a fresh dialing tone because sometimes fraudsters will stay on the line after you think the call has been disconnected and pretend to be a police call handler.
"We also want to make it clear that Lancashire Police would never ask for your bank details or those of your loved ones. If you suspect a fraud is taking place or something is not quite right, always disconnect the call.
"Can we ask that everybody reading this to please inform any elderly or vulnerable relative, friend or neighbour about this latest scam. We appreciate that not everybody is on social media and we really need your help spreading the message far and wide.
"If anybody has any information which could help our investigation or you believe you or a loved may have been the victim of this scam please call police on 101 quoting log 0240 of October 20.
Earlier this month three people were arrested on suspicion of fraud by false representation, a 27-year-old from London, a 19-year-old man from Nelson and a 25-year-old man from Nelson in connection with the courier frauds in the East of the county. They have either since been released on bail or released under investigation, pending further enquiries.
For help and advice about how you can stay safe from scammers visit Action Fraud via https://orlo.uk/QvzaP or call 0300 123 2040.