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Warning after elderly residents targeted by people pretending to be police

We are warning residents in Salisbury of a scam which has been taking place involving people pretending to be police officers.

This type of crime is called Courier fraud. It occurs when a fraudster contacts victims by telephone pretending to be a police officer or bank official. To gain a victim’s trust, the caller might be able to confirm some easily obtainable personal details such as their full name and address.

The caller might then suggest money has been removed from their account by mistake, police need money for evidence or even need the victim to purchase an item of high price ‘evidence’.

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”. Alternatively, the victim may be asked to package the cash up and send it by post to an address provided by the fraudster.  Often a password is provided, which will then be provided on collection of the money. 

The fraudsters will remain on the phone line throughout the entire duration of their ‘investigation’ either on the victims mobile phone or on their landline number at home.

In the last six days we have had nine reports of these types of incidents. Often the fraudster is pretending to be from the ‘the Flying Squad, The Met Police, or from Bourne Hill Police station’. The caller will often advise the victim to call 999 to confirm the details to the police, but they stay on the line and have someone else pretending to be in the call centre.

If you suspect you have been targeted, put the phone down and call the police or your bank from another landline or mobile to check, not the line you were called on.

Inspector Tina Osborn, from the Salisbury Neighbourhood team said: “These fraudsters can be very persuasive and use a variety of tactics to convince you to withdraw cash, transfer money or hand over bank cards.

"We've had one case recently where a fraudster targeted a 90 year-old lady in a phone call that lasted over four hours. This shows just how devious these fraudsters are becoming and we are seeing an increasing number of victims who have been emotionally manipulated to lower their defences.”

“It is really important people remain vigilant against these cold-hearted crimes. Bank accounts can be emptied in minutes and life savings lost. This places enormous stress on families and ruins people’s lives.”

"Victims are typically elderly, as in these cases, and we are asking anyone with an elderly relative, loved one, friend or associate to please make them aware of this type of scam.”

Here are some tips for helping you to protect yourself and your loved ones:

  • 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.
  • If you’ve given your bank details over the phone or handed your card to a courier, call your bank straight away to cancel the card.
  • If you have received a call of this nature but not handed over any money please report it to Salisbury Neighbourhood Policing team on SalisburyAreaNPT@wiltshire.police.uk or attend the enquiry office at Bourne Hill.

    If you have been a victim of this type of crime and money has been lost please report this via 101, or via the online reporting system. 

    If the crime is happening and in progress please make sure that you call 999.

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    Message Sent By
    Charlotte Martin
    (Wiltshire Police, Media Officer, Wiltshire)

    Neighbourhood Alert Cyber Essentials