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Police issue warning about fraudsters after woman in Flackwell Heath is conned out of £15,000

| March 5, 2016


Thames Valley Police have issued a warning about fraudsters after an 82-year-old woman from Flackwell Heath handed over £15,000 to courier fraudsters.

Sometime between 5.00pm on Friday 26th February 2016 and 11.45am on Saturday 27th February 2016 an 82 year old woman from Flackwell Heath handed over £15,000 to courier fraudsters after being targeted in a scam.

The woman was telephoned by the fraudsters who persuaded her to withdraw the money from her bank account and hand it to a courier at her door. The offenders told her they needed her help to identify forged bank notes.

The man who collected the money was wearing dark clothing and possibly made off in a taxi or dark vehicle. Thames Valley Police would like to speak to anyone who has any information about the incident or saw the man in the area.

Thames Valley Police is calling on friends and family to help protect loved ones from courier fraud. Prompt cards have been created which can be pinned next to the front door and put next to the phone to explain to vulnerable and elderly people how to recognise courier fraud and to stop them from becoming a victim.

Families are also being urged to take ten minutes to talk about courier fraud with loved ones.

Investigating officer PC Kimberly Barletta, based at Wycombe police station, said: ‘Fraudsters take advantage of their victim’s trust to gain access to their life savings.

We have created these prompt cards to help vulnerable and elderly people recognise courier fraud and to help stop them from becoming a victim.

We’re asking family and friends to print out these prompt cards, drop them around to elderly friends, family and neighbours, and to take ten minutes to talk through these top tips.

I also want to say that a senior police officer or a bank would never send a courier to anybody’s home address to collect money.

Thames Valley Police is urging families to take ten minutes to talk about courier fraud with those at risk. The ten minute talk should cover:

  • Never deal with cold callers on the phone or in person, no matter how polite or friendly they are.  Saying ‘No thank you’ and shutting the door or hanging up the phone is not rude.
  • Your bank, the police or anyone legitimate will never send a courier to your home to collect your money, your bank cards, and they will never ask for your pin number. Close the door, lock it, and call 101 to speak to the police.
  • Keep a mobile phone next to the landline, and if you want to make a phone call immediately after hanging up the landline, always use the other phone.
  • If you do hand over your bank details or cards, don’t panic. Call your bank immediately using another phone, such as a mobile phone, explain what’s happened and cancel your cards.
  • Legitimate callers will never try to rush you, scare you, or force you into anything.  If you feel scared or pressured at any point, hang up or shut the door and tell someone what’s happened.

There are many variations of the courier scam, but it usually follows this method:

  • A fraudster will cold call the victim on a landline they may claim to be from the victim’s bank, the police, a fraud investigator or even a television personality.
  • The fraudster states their systems have spotted a fraudulent payment in the victim’s account, or that they need the victim’s help in investigating fraudulent activity at their bank.
  • In order to reassure the victim that they are genuine, they suggest that the victim hangs up and rings the bank/police back straight away. However, they don’t disconnect the call from the landline so that when the real phone number is dialled, they are actually still speaking to the fraudster.
  • Finally, the fraudsters will send a courier to collect cash from the victim’s home address, or to take the victim to their bank to withdraw the money. The fraudster will have then obtained the victim’s name, address, full bank details, card and PIN.

The prompt cards to tackle courier fraud are available in the Crime Prevention section of the Thames Valley Police website.

If you receive this type of call, report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. In an emergency dial 999.

Anyone with information on the incident in Flackwell Heath can contact PC Kimberly Barletta via the 24-hour Thames Valley Police enquiry centre on 101.

If you don’t want to speak directly to the police you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. No personal details are taken, information is not traced or recorded and you will not go to court.

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