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Nottinghamshire residents urged to be vigilant following spike in courier frauds

The crime, known as ‘Courier Fraud’, has seen elderly victims hand over thousands of pounds in cash after being told they must cooperate with an undercover police investigation into their bank.

Fraudsters posing as cops have told the victims their bank has been issuing fake bank notes – and that as a customer they are required to withdraw banknotes and hand them to a courier, so that the notes can be checked by police.

They are told they will be reimbursed but in reality, the person who collects the cash is a fraudster who then disappears with the money.

During a two-week period in January, Nottinghamshire Police received 34 reports of courier fraud attempts, with six people losing a combined £72,900.

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Retired Steve Westby, of Radcliffe-on-Trent, was among those targeted by the fraudsters. Thankfully, he did not fall for the scam – but he could see how others have.

He said: “When you think it’s a police officer on the phone, you automatically trust them straight away.

“It’s a very clever scam. I can see why a lot of people are taken in by it.”

The heaviest loss was one couple in their 80s who were coerced into handing over £24,000. The couple were initially contacted by a man claiming to be from BT, who claimed he was calling due to an overdue payment. When the couple advised they had paid the bill, they were put through to another person, who claimed he was a detective sergeant – and the scam went on from there.

Nottinghamshire Police’s fraud protection team is now helping the victims submit reimbursement claims as they seek to recover their losses.

Following the spike in reports, officers are urging people to pass on the information about bogus callers to relatives, friends and neighbours who may be at risk to such scams.

Dale Richardson, fraud protection officer for Nottinghamshire Police, said: “We really need the public to be on their guard against this scam.

“If you know anyone who might be susceptible to this type of fraud, please let them know that no police officer or legitimate bank/building society will ever phone you to ask you to give them your bank details, your PIN, or hand over cash to a courier.”

In Nottinghamshire, targeted residents have been contacted by a cold caller purporting to be a police officer.

In many of the reported cases, the bogus cop told the person a bank card in their name had been found in the possession of a relative, who had been arrested.

They also told the person counterfeit money was found on the relative, which had led to suspicions the person’s bank was issuing counterfeit notes.

Victims were then persuaded to withdraw cash from their bank so that a ‘police officer’ could come to their address and collect it, as part of a supposed police investigation.

To verify what they were being told was true, victims were advised to hang up and ring 191. However, that number is also not genuine and has led to victims speaking to another fraudster who is part of the scam.

Detective Inspector Ashley Xavier said Nottinghamshire Police is doing everything possible to trace those involved in the scam.

She said: “I want to reassure the public that these cases are being investigated and we are providing safeguarding support and helping victims submit claims to recover their losses.

“We don’t want anyone to suffer the emotional effects of a major financial loss and so I urge the public to get in touch with friends and family to warn them of this scam.

“These fraudsters can be very elaborate, very convincing and cruel. If you think someone is trying to scam you, hang up and tell someone straight away.”

Here are some tell-tale signs of courier fraud:

  1. Courier fraud usually starts with an unsolicited telephone call to the victim.
  2. Typically the suspect will pose as a bank official, police officer or a computer or utility engineer.
  3. Courier fraudsters will usually request the victim purchases high value items such as a Rolex watch and gold bullion, withdraws cash or provides a bank card for collection from a courier.
  4. Fraudsters will instruct victims not tell any family or friends about what they are doing.
  5. When carrying out courier fraud, criminals will request the victim hangs up the phone to ring their bank for confirmation while keeping the line open. The suspect then purports to be a bank official and provides false confirmation.
  6. Fraudsters will also make arrangements for a courier to meet the victim to collect the item they have purchased.

A number of services exist to help combat nuisance calls, including the trueCallsystem which lets calls from friends and family straight through, but which asks unrecognised callers to identify themselves, and blocks unwelcome callers. Anyone interested in obtaining a trueCall system should call Nottinghamshire Police on 101 and ask to speak to Dale Richardson.

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