Preston woman, 75, conned out of £60,000 by scammer posing as police officer

An elderly Preston woman who was conned out of £60,000 nearly handed over another £50,000 in cash and £40,000 in gold following a telephone scam.

Thursday, 21st January 2021, 4:23 pm

Detectives investigating a series of courier frauds have released a recording of the phone call, which has been traced to London, to help demonstrate the tactics fraudsters use to obtain money.

In the recording, a 75-year-old woman from Preston is contacted by an unknown man pretending to be a police officer.

He requests large sums of money and gold to be sent to him, claiming they were required as part of an ongoing police investigation.

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After handing over £60,000 to a "courier", the victim contacted the police after suspecting she had been a victim of fraud.

Officers attended the victim's address and prevented a further £50,000 from being transferred and also recovered £40,000 in gold.

Det Sgt Mark Riley, of Lancashire Police, said: "The police, 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.

"These are unscrupulous offenders with no morals and are only interested in bringing misery. They can be very convincing and will try every trick in the book to get you to trust them. I would ask people to be extra vigilant at this time. 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.

Officers attended the victim's address and prevented a further £50,000 from being transferred and also recovered £40,000 in gold. (Credit: Lancashire Police)

"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 report anything that doesn’t feel right to the police straight away."

Police said victims are usually contacted by someone who claims to be from the "fraud team".

After telling the victim that they have been a victim of fraud - such as their bank card being used by someone else - they are told they must withdraw cash so that it can be used as evidence.

The money is then handed over to a "courier" or the "investigation team" under the pretence they will keep it safe and return it once enquiries are over.

Officers also said victims are often told not to tell anyone about the investigation, including their family and friends.

There have been nine reports of courier fraud in Lancashire in the last month, with all the victims describing similar accounts.

"Please be aware of this highly sophisticated and devastating scam," Det Sgt Mark Riley added.

"We have intercepted some of these recent courier frauds but there have unfortunately been incidents where victims have sadly handed over their life savings.

"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."

If you or someone you know has been a victim of fraud contact Action Fraud on 0300123 2040 or visit www.actionfraud.police.uk

Protect yourself

- Your bank or the police will never call you to ask you to verify your personal details or PIN by phone or offer to pick up your card by courier. Hang up if you get a call like this.

- If you need to call your bank back to check, wait five minutes; fraudsters may stay on the line after you hang up. Alternatively, use a different line altogether to call your bank.

- Your debit or credit card is yours - don’t let a stranger take it off you. You should only ever have to hand it over at your bank. If it’s cancelled, you should destroy it yourself.

Spot the signs

- Someone claiming to be from your bank or local police force calls you to tell you about fraudulent activity but is asking you for personal information or even your PIN to verify who you are.

- They’re offering you to call back so you can be sure they’re genuine, but when you try to return the call there’s no dial tone.

- They try to offer you peace of mind by having somebody pick up the card for you to save you the trouble of having to go to your bank or local police station.

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