Police warn of courier fraud rise in Sussex
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Police are warning residents to be wary of unsolicited phone calls after seeing a rise in reports of courier fraud across Sussex.
Courier fraud is where fraudsters call victims pretending to be from police, a bank, or another trusted organisation and request money or information. Typically, the caller persuades the victim to withdraw a sum of money or disclose personal details such as a PIN number. A courier is then sent to collect it.
In July and August Sussex Police received 91 reports of courier fraud relating to vulnerable victims. There were 25 cases where losses were recorded, totalling £243.035. Fortunately the majority of victims reported the fraud to police after realising they were being scammed or Banking Protocol was instigated to protect the victim from losing money.
On 13 August, police received a report that a 76-year-old woman in Horsham was called by a man pretending to be from her bank. She was asked to urgently attend a branch in Redhill as she had supposedly been the victim of fraud. When she said she couldn't attend, he arranged for a courier to come and collect her card and asked for her PIN number. Two ATM withdrawals of £500 were made in Crawley.
PC Bernadette Lawrie, Financial Safeguarding Officer for Sussex and Surrey Police said: "Sadly, this is a typical example of the way criminals will prey on the elderly to steal their money. Courier fraud often specifically targets the vulnerable by exploiting their trust in the police and their bank.
"Courier fraudsters are nearly always part of wider criminal gangs who can be incredibly convincing and persuasive. It can be particularly intimidating for older people when scammers turn up on a victim’s doorstep and they may feel under pressure to comply with requests.
"We would urge residents to be particularly vigilant about unsolicited calls at the moment. You can help by encouraging older and vulnerable members of the community to double check people are who they say they are. Never feel pressure to make a decision on the spot - if in doubt, hang up the phone or shut the door. The police and your bank will never ask you to transfer money and will not ask for your PIN or banking password.
"We understand some victims may feel frightened or embarrassed following courier fraud and may not want to talk about it. We're asking anyone who has experienced this sort of crime to report it to Action Fraud or police so it can be investigated."
You can do your bit to prevent courier fraud by checking on elderly friends, relatives and neighbours, and making sure they know what to look out for.
Please remember: The police and your bank will never
- Phone and ask you for your full PIN or full banking password
- Ask you to transfer money out of your account
For more information about Operation Signature, the force campaign to identify and support vulnerable victims of fraud see the website here.