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Police have issued a warning after fraudsters targeted people across Gloucester in phone call scams where they claimed to be police officers.
The fraudsters are manipulative and try to convince the person they are cold-calling that they are assisting with an ongoing investigation, or that they are under investigation themselves for offences such as money laundering.
In one incident at around 5pm on Monday 9 August the fraudster claimed to be a DI Warley working from Bearlands police station. He was described as sounding polite and asked probing questions.
When the resident, a 90-year-old woman, questioned his authenticity he asked, "don't you trust your local police?". She realised this was an attempt at a scam and ended the call.
In another attempt scam the trickster called a woman aged in her 70s and claimed to be a DC Martin Rowley from Bearlands police station. He said her bank card had been used to buy items and that he would transfer her to the fraud investigation team.
The man claiming to be an officer had also been polite on the phone and asked probing questions such as her whereabouts that day, but she realised this was a scam and on questioning him the man ended the call.
In a similar attempt earlier this week the person claiming to be DC Rowley called a woman aged in her 50s and used her name. He told her that her card had been cloned and she needed to go to a bank and withdraw cash.
He also said that staff at the bank were under investigation and the woman needed to go to the bank that day as he wanted to arrest them as soon as possible. When she refused to reveal her bank details the man ended the call.
Detective Inspector Matt Phillips from the Serious and Organised Crime Unit said: "Thankfully in the incidents reported to us no-one fell victim to the scam, but the fraudsters were described as having been polite and asking probing questions in a bid to make themselves sound convincing.
“Just last week we had a complex case in court where five men from London admitting to being involved in a conspiracy to commit fraud after they claimed to be police officers and defrauded people across the country.
“These are organised crime groups who work together and often target a location at a time, making thousands of phone calls until someone falls victim to it.
"They will sometimes know your name when they call, as there are databases online, but please don't let this trick you. They will often be polite and sound professional so they gain your trust - they are manipulative and very convincing.
"In some cases the fraudster also gives a collar number and asks you to ring 101 or 999 to check they are who they say they are, but this is just part of the scam as the caller leaves the phone line open and you just end up talking to someone else involved.
"They will also often tell the person they're trying to con not to tell anyone else about the call, including their own family or the bank. They will then arrange for a courier to come and collect the items - either cash, gift cards or other expensive items - at a location such as your home or place of work.
"I would urge people to please tell your elderly or vulnerable relatives and friends about this type of scam - no police officer or other official will ever ask you to withdraw money from your bank, pass over your bank details or hand over cash to someone."
If you think you or someone you know has been defrauded, you can report it to Action Fraud online or by calling 0300 123 2040.