Nottinghamshire Police is warning members of the public to watch out for a rise in phone call scams after two vulnerable victims lost more than £18,000.
A woman in her 60s from Nottingham handed over thousands of pounds in cash to fraudsters, and another report saw a lady in her 70s, also from Nottingham, lose £11,500 after a man purported to be a police officer.
The first victim received a call on January 24 from the fraudster who claimed he was working for the Metropolitan Police force. The man requested her to withdraw large amounts of cash as part of a covert police operation and that she would get the money back.
After being told she could be arrested if she did not cooperate, the vulnerable woman was talked into withdrawing almost £7,000 in cash from a bank. She was told the bank was under investigation and that officers needed her to withdraw the money as part of a covert evidence-gathering exercise.
During the same week, the second victim also received a call saying she was part of a covert police operation and was persuaded to buy a £11,500 Rolex watch, which was later collected from her doorstep.
In both incidents the fraudster used the same police officer's name and the same phrasing to convince both victims to cooperate.
Fiona Price, a fraud and cyber protect officer at Nottinghamshire Police, said both victims were being supported by specialist officers having been cruelly targeted in the sophisticated scam.
"We have unfortunately continued to receive reports of scammers contacting individuals via the telephone and pretending to either be police officers or bank staff.
“If you receive such a call you should not give out any personal information and hang up immediately.
“If you are ever unsure whether the person speaking to you is a genuine police officer please contact the force they claim to be from on 101 and ask to speak with that officer. Any police officer would not be offended by you wishing to verify their identity.
"We stress that no police officers will ever call you out of the blue asking for personal information, including bank account details.
"A police officer would never ask you to withdraw money or purchase high value items such as gold or watches as part of an investigation.
"We are urging people to share this among friends and family. Not everyone has access to the internet, so do tell neighbours and relatives about these types of scams.
"If you receive a phone call like this please report it to the police immediately and inform Action Fraud."
What is courier fraud?
If you receive a text, email or call claiming to be from - or contacting you on behalf of - a police force asking you to either click on a link or to give information such as your name, credit card or bank details, it’s a scam.
During the above incidents, both victims received a call from someone claiming to be a police officer investigating counterfeit currency or fraudulent use of the victim’s bank card.
The caller tells them not to talk to anyone else about the call as it may jeopardise the police investigation. This is a tactic to keep their scam hidden from friends and families who may foil their plot.
They then try to persuade the victim to withdraw a large sum of money and purchase gold online or to visit a named jewellers.
A courier is then sent to the victim’s home address to collect the gold and money.
Reports claim that the victim is transferred to a different department and advised that if they pay the owed money they won’t be arrested.
The call can appear local, using regional numbers, but these are spoofed numbers used to make the call look authentic.
Protect yourself from scam telephone calls by:
Calling your provider to make your number ex-directory and asking if they have any scam call shield services.
Registering your number with the Telephone Preference Service.
Removing your details from the OPEN Electoral Register and 192.com
Installing a call blocker / phone with an inbuilt call blocking feature.
Changing your number if necessary.
Ensuring your number isn’t publicly available on any of your social media pages.
You can report fraud online via the Action Fraud website or by calling 0300 123 2040.
Report all Fraud and Cybercrime to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or online. Forward suspicious emails to firstname.lastname@example.org. Report SMS scams by forwarding the original message to 7726 (spells SPAM on the keypad).