Telephone fraudsters target Lancashire’s elderly residents

Officers investigating a series of courier frauds have released a recording of an offender on the telephone to an elderly victim as a warning to help raise awareness.

The audio, which has been traced to a phone call originating in London, demonstrates the manipulating tactics fraudsters use to obtain money.

In this case a 75-year-old woman from Preston was contacted by an unknown offender purporting to be a police detective. The offender requested large sums of money and gold to be sent to him claiming they were required as part of an apparent ongoing police investigation.

After handing over £60,000 to a “courier” the victim contacted police to report that she suspected 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.

We are warning residents to be vigilant after this case joined a series of courier frauds in the county which has seen vulnerable elderly people targeted for money over the phone.

Victims are usually telephoned by someone claiming to be from the “fraud team” who tells them they’ve been the victim of fraud with a story such as their bank card has been used by someone else.

The victim is then told they must withdraw cash as “evidence” and to hand it to the “investigation team” who will keep it safe then return it once enquiries are over.

Victims are often told not to tell anyone about the “investigation”, even family and friends.

They can then be visited in person by a fake courier.

There have been nine reports of courier fraud in Lancashire in the last month, all where victims describe similar accounts of requests for large sums of money from offenders claiming to be police officers.

We have intercepted some of these interactions and prevented the loss of thousands of pounds of cash and goods being transferred to organised criminals. Unfortunately, some transactions have gone through and these are currently being investigated by officers from the economic crime unit.

DS 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.

“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.

“Please be aware of this highly sophisticated and devastating scam. 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.”

Investigations are ongoing.

If you, or someone you know has been a victim of fraud contact Action Fraud on 0300123 2040 or visit https://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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