Elderly people of Gloucestershire being scammed out of thousands of pounds in recent spate of fraud
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Gloucestershire Constabulary are warning the public to be on their guard after a spate of courier frauds across the county has led to many elderly victims being conned out of thousands of pounds.
There has been a spate of at least 14 reports of courier fraud across Gloucestershire since the beginning of the month where victims have lost a total of £13,000.
Victims have been duped out of thousands of pounds and police want the public to inform their elderly relatives and friends to help prevent more people becoming victims.
There are many different types of scams however a common one in the county currently involves victims being called by a person claiming to be a police officer, asking them to help with an ongoing investigation which is fictitious.
Often victims are asked to take money out of their account and give it to a courier. Therefore this type of crime is called courier fraud.
Recent incidents include on Tuesday (8 December) where a man in Cheltenham was preparing to hand over £30,000 to a fraudster before authorities stepped in and informed him it was a scam.
On Tuesday 3 December a man in Chepstow was defrauded of £7,000 after a scammer told him they were investigating a bank fraud.
In another incident earlier this month, (Wednesday 2 December), a victim in the Forest of Dean handed over £5,000 to a phoney courier.
Following a recent spate in the amount of frauds being reported Gloucestershire Constabulary is now warning people to be vigilant and to make their elderly relatives, friends and neighbours aware of this type of crime.
Victims are telephoned and asked to withdraw money from a bank usually because the fraudster informs them that the notes are counterfeit or their account is somehow involved with money laundering, with a courier being sent to collect the money.
The victims are told not to inform anybody as the made-up investigation is covert or that they could risk arrest themselves. The fraudsters are convincing and very manipulative.
The police will never ask you to provide bank card details, withdraw sums of money, or purchase items to be collected. Anyone who believes that they have been the victim of a fraudulent phone call can report this by calling police on 101 or Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.
This year there has been a total loss of £127,100 to fraud in Gloucestershire where the average victim is 80 years old.
Despite this high number officers are certain there are more victims in the county that may not be aware they have been or are being scammed.
During the month of November there was at least 224 reports of fraud made to the force.
Simon Shaw, Detective Sergeant for Fraud said: "Telephone fraudsters will try to panic and frighten victims into compliance. They also groom their victims. They tell them "this is top secret" and give them cover stories to tell bank staff and even family members who may question what they are doing. If your elderly relative or friend is telling you things that don't sound right, be persistent and inform Gloucestershire Constabulary or Action Fraud.
"No legitimate company or agency would ever ask you to withdraw cash or purchase items as part of an investigation."
More information to stop you from becoming a victim of fraud is below:
-If you believe you are being targeted by a scammer hang up the phone and use a different phone line to call Action Fraud or the police. Scammers have a way to stay on the line and will pretend to be the police when you call back.
-If you don’t have access to a different phone line, wait for a period of time and try calling a family member or friend first to make sure the scammer is no longer on the line.
-Just because someone knows basic details about you like your address or date of birth, it doesn’t mean they are genuine police employees.
-Always question suspicious phone calls and report them to Action Fraud or the police.
-Always have a pad and pen next to the phone, if you get a suspicious call, take details, don’t get flustered, get names addresses and contact numbers. Then, disconnect the call. Walk away from the phone for at least five minutes and then contact Gloucestershire Constabulary to verify the details of the call.
-If police from any other force area contact you, ask them to contact Gloucestershire Constabulary who will then communicate with you if they need to.