Courier Fraud Awareness Day after 31 reported attempts across Lincolnshire

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Lincolnshire Police is joining in a day of awareness to highlight the issue of Courier Fraud.

Many police forces across the country are using today, which the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) is leading on, to raise awareness around the crime, which coincides with a BBC1 Watchdog item on Courier Fraud being aired on television this evening.

Lincolnshire is just one of the regions across the country that has experienced examples of attempted or successful frauds of this kind.

So far they have had reports of 31 attempts being made, with four successful frauds being carried out.

The latest attempt was just last week on an elderly gentleman in Grantham, although thankfully it was not successful.

The instances of Courier Fraud being reported to police have decreased rapidly over the last few weeks and officers believe this is due to the awareness and diligence of members of the public who are personally reporting attempts, or others who are reporting it on behalf of people close to them.

DI Pete Grayson said: “With the assistance of the media we have been able to raise awareness of this type of crime and as a result have thankfully seen a decrease in reported incidents in Lincolnshire.

“However, I would urge people to be vigilant as criminals use a variety of similar methods, including pretending to be a police officer or someone investigating the activities of a bank employee.

“Remember the police and banks will never cold call you and ask for your account details, passwords or personal information. Please report anything like this to the police straight away.”

If you are unsure of a person’s identity please do not engage with them. If you receive a phone call you are suspicious of please hang up, and simply close the door if there is someone on your doorstep who you are unsure of. Please do not follow their instructions and report your suspicions to police immediately on 101.

As with many of these scams, offenders often target vulnerable or elderly people. If you have an elderly relative or neighbour you can help by warning them about this.

How it works:

- Elderly victim is contacted on their landline from a man identifying himself as a police officer (usually from Birmingham or London). The caller will give a name and collar number of a real police officer.

- Victim informed that Police have someone in custody who has made a fraudulent transaction on their card. The victim is told to contact their bank ASAP.

- Victim will put the phone down but the offender will NOT, hence keeping the line open.

- Offender will then pretend to be the victim’s bank and ask personal questions (i.e. PIN numbers). The offender will keep the victim on the phone for 1 to 2 hours and inform the victim that they will send a courier around to collect the card to ensure it is disposed of.

- Offender will send a courier (usually another member of the group) to the address to collect the bank card. The courier will then arrive at victim’s address and collect the card/s.

- Offender will then use the victim’s card immediately after, withdrawing and making transactions between £1,500 to £2,000

As part of today’s operation, officers from Operation Sterling, the Metropolitan Police’s fraud prevention team, are working together with Ofcom, the DCPCU (Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit), Trading Standards and high street banks, including Natwest, Barclays and Santander, to advise on how to avoid becoming a victim of fraud. They are also distributing an updated edition of the MPS publication ‘The Little Book of Big Scams’, which can downloaded from the MPS website.

Lynn Parker, Ofcom’s Director of Consumer Protection, said: “Ofcom is working closely with the police and the telecoms industry to help stamp out courier fraud.

“Over the last year, a number of telephone providers have made changes to their networks to cut the time a phone line remains open to a couple of seconds. This action has stopped fraudsters from being able to stay on the line to impersonate a victim’s bank or the police – a key feature of how this scam works. We have also been working to drive awareness among consumers to help them avoid falling victim to courier fraud.

“It’s very encouraging to see this work paying dividends, with more fraudsters being foiled in their attempts to scam people. But we’re fully aware that there’s more work to do to prevent courier fraud completely. We are continuing our work in this area to ensure that the necessary technical changes are fully implemented across the telecoms sector as quickly as possible.”

Detective Chief Inspector Perry Stokes, Head of the Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit, said:

“Fraudsters can be extremely persuasive – do not be fooled. Your bank or the police will never call you to request your bank card or ask you to transfer money to another account. Anyone attempting to do so is a fraudster. If someone on the phone asks for it, hang up immediately. If you believe you have had one of these calls or know someone who has, get in contact with your bank straight away.”