"Each month we see many incidents of fraudsters targeting our residents to defraud them. We’re working hard to prevent this and support vulnerable victims of fraud or scams. By following our tips and encouraging family, friends and colleagues to do so too, you can reduce the risk of becoming a victim." T/Detective Chief Inspector Simon Doyle, Surrey Police & Sussex Police Economic Crime Unit
Sussex and Surrey Police have received a number of recent reports of Courier fraud. This remains the highest fraud type across both counties targeting the vulnerable.
Courier fraud is when a fraudster phones up claiming to be from your bank or the Police, saying there has been some fraudulent activity on your account /card and this needs resolving.
Various tactics are employed to obtain cash, bank cards and valuables. These can be making a withdrawal from the bank to be handed to a courier with bank cards, or may involve on-line transactions, loans or setting up a new bank account to transfer funds into as well as purchasing high value goods such a watches and gold bars.
They may imply the bank staff are in on the fraud and that is why they encourage the victim to pretend the money is being withdrawn for a different reason.
In one case, an 85-year-old Female from Elmbridge, Surrey received a call on her landline from a male claiming to be a Damien from Barclays bank. The caller explained that the victim’s bank card had been used fraudulently and that she needed to dispose of her bank card immediately.
The victim was instructed to put her bank cards in an envelope and leave them on her doorstep for a courier to collect. A courier later attended to collect the bank cards and the victim received a final call to say her cards had been collected and new ones would be posted to her.
The victim later grew suspicious of what had happened and contacted her bank who explained she had been scammed and £600 had been taken from her account. Sadly some victims have lost considerably higher amounts.
How to protect yourself:
Avoid sharing personal information over the phone.
Always check your phone line has properly disconnected before making another call – try calling a friend first, wait five minutes, or use a different phone.
Do not transfer or withdraw money on the instruction of an unexpected caller.
Never give your bank card to a courier or someone you do not know and trust.
Sussex and Surrey Police are urging people to be vigilant after receiving several reports of online sextortion.
Sextortion is a form of blackmail where someone threatens to reveal intimate images of a person online unless they give in to their demands. These demands are typically for money or further images.
Criminals might befriend victims online by using a fake identity and then persuade them to perform sexual acts in front of their webcam. They will then threaten to share the images with the victims' friends and family which can make the victims feel embarrassed and ashamed and prevent them from coming forward to report the incident.
In one case, an 18-year-old Male from West Sussex received a follow request from a female on Instagram. The Female suggested they continue talking on Snapchat where she soon sent intimate images of herself encouraging the victim to also send do the same.
The victim did this and later received demands from the female. She claimed to have all the victim’s friends and contacts and explained that she would share his intimate images with them all unless the victim sent her money. The victim was instructed to send £400 to a PayPal account, which sadly he did. The female continued to demand money, in total the victim sent £600 via PayPal before blocking the female and reporting to the police.
How to protect yourself:
Do not share intimate videos or images online
Be wary about who you invite or accept invitations from on social media sites
Update the privacy settings on your accounts so only people you know can view your account
If you become a victim to this type of scam, do not respond to the demands but report the incident to the social media platform and the police
Every day, countless people in the UK receive scam mail through their door. Criminals often target people who are aged over 65 in particular.
Throughout December, the National Trading Standards Scam Team are running a SCAMnesty campaign to ask everyone in the UK to look out for scam mail and send it in for investigation.
Do you have any scam mail?
Send it free of charge to the Nation Trading Standards Scam Team to be investigated: NTSST, FREEPOST, MAIL MARSHALS
Identity theft involves the misuse of someone’s personal details in order to commit crime. Your details are valuable to fraudsters who can make money from selling them onto others. Fraudsters will use a range of tactics to gain personal and financial information from victims, this can later be used to open bank accounts, apply for loans, car insurance and for fines.
How to protect yourself:
Avoid sharing your personal and financial information to people you don’t know