Banks and the police will never ask for your cash or bank cards warns Surrey Police
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Surrey Police is issuing a warning about the danger of courier fraud after £1.8 million was reported lost in the county as a result of the crime in 2019.
Criminals typically carry out courier fraud by cold calling their victim, claiming to be a police officer or bank official to gain their trust. In recent Surrey cases, callers have claimed to be Martin Rose, Martin Anderson, DC Gillingham or DC Plough from Aldershot or Hounslow Police Stations, or Hammersmith Police.
The fraudsters will claim there’s an issue with the victim’s bank account or request their assistance with an investigation. The aim of this call is to trick them into handing over money or their bank card. In all cases, a ‘courier’ will then come and pick up the cash or bank card. They will often come to the victim’s home address and are known to travel by taxi or Uber.
In Surrey, police received 409 reports of this crime in 2019. The total recorded loss to these victims was £1,807,925 with an average of £14,000 being lost (by those with a loss). In 278 of the cases nothing was stolen thanks to the vigilance of residents and bank staff.
The majority of courier fraud victims are elderly, with 79% of Surrey victims aged 75 or over. More often than not they live alone and are specifically targeted because of this.
Detective Chief Inspector Andy Richardson, head of the force’s Economic Crime Unit, says “We are seeing many more cases of courier fraud across the county. We want to warn residents to be vigilant, and to enlist the public’s help in making sure they talk to elderly friends and relatives about this crime.
“We are working hard, alongside other forces and national bodies, to understand the sophisticated methods and techniques employed by these fraudsters so we can not only catch the ‘courier’ in the act but also trace the organised criminal gangs behind the crime.
“The latest intel is that taxis and Ubers are frequently used to transport couriers from train stations to their target areas, so I would ask drivers to be particularly alert and contact us about any suspicious passengers.”
PC Bernadette Lawrie BEM, Financial Abuse Safeguarding Officer for Surrey Police says "Behind all of the clever tricks and ever-changing narratives, there are a few basic recurring elements that are common to all courier frauds. Here’s what you need to remember:
“Your bank or the police will never call and ask you for your full PIN or full banking password, ask you to withdraw money to hand over to them or ask you to transfer money out of your account.
“It pays to stop and think any time you receive a request for personal or financial information. If you feel uncomfortable or unsure about what you’re being asked to do, never hesitate to contact your bank or financial service provider directly, using a number you trust, such as the one listed on your bank statements or on the back of your card. Alternatively, ask a trusted friend or family member for advice.”
The force's ongoing campaign to identify and support vulnerable victims of fraud, Operation Signature, ensures that every vulnerable victim of fraud receives prevention advice and support from an officer.
Support that officers can give victims includes:
- Helping them to change their phone number to an ex-directory number - Contacting family to suggest power of attorney - Mail re-direction - Offering them advice on call blocking devices - Referring them to other support services
DCI Richardson adds “Courier Fraud victims often put their losses down to what they consider their own foolishness, and therefore don’t report the crime to us out of embarrassment. This distressing crime – where a criminal has often stood on the victim’s doorstep - robs victims of their confidence and sense of security as much as their money.
“I would appeal to people to report this crime. Firstly, because we can provide bespoke support to ensure you don’t become a victim again. I can assure you our officers will be sympathetic and understanding. Secondly, because it helps us build up a picture of the latest criminal techniques, something which is invaluable in tackling courier fraud.
“If a crime is in action, so you’re awaiting a courier, or on your way to meet someone to hand over cash or cards, always call 999.”