POLICE are calling on the friends and family of elderly West Berkshire residents to help protect them from courier fraud following a series of incidents where victims were tricked into handing over thousands of pounds.
On April 26, a 93-year-old woman received a call on her landline from a man stating he was a Metropolitan police officer called Detective Inspector Hart investigating a fraud.
He convinced her to attend her local bank and withdraw £8,000. When she returned home with the money a man visited her address and took receipt of the money.
On April 27 a call was made to a Newbury resident from a man claiming to be from the 'Newbury Fraud Squad' enquiring about two Rolex watches and an associated fraud.
The person who received the call became suspicious and despite being reconnected to a female who stated she was in charge of the 'Fraud Squad' the recipient of the call did not pass any or personal or bank details.
On April 29 an 89-year-old woman received a call on her landline from a man calling himself DC Tim Parish from the 'Visa fraud department' informing the victim that there had been fraudulent activity on her account.
The caller said not to tell family members as it was a secret police operation.
The caller told the victim to call 999 without putting the phone down and the victim spoke to a woman who confirmed that DC Parish was a Fraud Squad officer. The victim was then persuaded to transfer £15,000 from her account.
Prompt cards have been created, which can be pinned next to the front door and put next to the phone, to explain to vulnerable and elderly people how to recognise courier fraud, and to stop them from becoming a victim.
Families are also being urged to take ten minutes to talk about courier fraud with loved ones.
Det Insp Mark Carolan, of Newbury local CID, said: "Fraudsters take advantage of their victim's trust to gain access to their life savings.
"We have created these prompt cards to help vulnerable and elderly people recognise courier fraud and to help stop them from becoming a victim.
"We're asking family and friends to print out these prompt cards, take them around to elderly friends, family and neighbours, and to take ten minutes to talk through these top tips.
"I want to reiterate that no senior police officer nor anyone from a bank would ever send a courier to anybody's home address to collect money."
The advice is as follows:
Never deal with cold callers on the phone or in person, no matter how polite or friendly they are. Saying 'No thank you' and shutting the door or hanging up the phone is not rude.
Your bank, the police or anyone legitimate will never send a courier to your home to collect your money, your bank cards, and they will never ask for your pin number. Close the door, lock it, and call 101 to speak to the police.
Keep a mobile phone next to the landline, and if you want to make a phone call immediately after hanging up the landline, always use the other phone.
If you do hand over your bank details or cards, don't panic. Call your bank immediately using another phone, such as a mobile phone, explain what's happened and cancel your cards.
Legitimate callers will never try to rush you, scare you, or force you into anything. If you feel scared or pressured at any point, hang up or shut the door and tell someone what's happened.
There are many variations of the courier scam, but it usually follows this method:
A fraudster will cold call the victim on a landline. Fraudsters may claim to be from the victim's bank, the police, a fraud investigator, and even television personality and including claims to be Money Saving Expert founder Martin Lewis OBE.
The fraudster states their systems have spotted a fraudulent payment in the victim's account, or that they need the victim's help in investigating fraudulent activity at their bank.
In order to reassure the victim that they are genuine, they suggest that the victim hangs up and rings the bank/police back straight away. However, they don't disconnect the call from the landline so that when the real phone number is dialled, they are actually still speaking to the fraudster.
Finally, the fraudsters will send a courier to collect cash from the victim's home address, or to take the victim to their bank to withdraw the money. The fraudster will have then obtained the victim's name, address, full bank details, card and PIN.
The prompt cards to tackle courier fraud are available in the Crime Prevention section of the Thames Valley Police website.
If you receive this type of call, report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. In an emergency dial 999.
Anyone with information can contact Det Insp Mark Carolan via the 24-hour Thames Valley Police enquiry centre on 101.
If you don't want to speak directly to the police you can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. No personal details are taken, information is not traced or recorded and you will not go to court.