Police are urging family members and friends of vulnerable people to be on their guard to help protect their loved ones from courier fraudsters.
Typically, courier fraudsters target their victims by claiming to be a police officer or a member of staff from a victim’s bank and they often pressure people into making quick financial decisions to assist with fictitious investigations.
In 2021 alone, 110 people in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight were victims of courier fraud, with losses totalling £786,963. Across the whole of the UK, 3,625 people were victims of courier fraud, with people losing more than £15.2million through scams.
Hampshire Constabulary is now supporting a new campaign launched by the City of London Police to help tackle courier fraud. To help raise awareness, the City of London Police has released a new list of tactics used by the fraudsters.
An analysis of data from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) has highlighted four modus operandi (MOs) which are now more commonly being used by fraudsters.
Four common MOs used by courier fraudsters:
1) Bank card expiry: Fraudsters claim to be from the victim’s bank and say their card is no longer valid. They ask for the pin number and then send a “courier” to collect the card before using it for fraudulent purposes.
2) Purchasing high-end items: The suspects pretend to be police officers and ask the victim to help with an undercover operation by purchasing expensive items like watches, jewellery and gold. Once the item is bought, the victim will hand over the item to the criminal.
3) Counterfeit cash/bank investigation: A person claiming to be a police or banking official informs the victim that they need to help with a banking corruption investigation. The victim is told to withdraw a large amount of money and the cash is picked up later by a courier to “check for fingerprints or to identify counterfeit bank notes”.
4) Computer takeover: The fraudster telephones the victim, purporting to be from their internet service provider, saying that they have had an issue with their internet connectivity and they are due compensation. The victim is persuaded to download a remote access application, giving the suspects access to their home computers. The fraudster persuades the victims into thinking that they have been paid too much compensation and the victims then withdraw cash to pay the money back, which is later collected by a courier.
Detective Inspector Mark Carter, from Hampshire Constabulary’s Serious & Organised Crime Unit, said: “These fraudsters are heartless individuals who prey on some of the most vulnerable people living in our area.
“We know that victims of courier fraud are typically aged between 70 and 89, with women more likely to be targeted than men. I would like to urge everyone who has an elderly relative, friend or cares for someone in that age bracket to make them aware of this type of fraud.
“We want people to know the tactics used by fraudsters and to be aware of the warning signs to look out for. These incidents can often have a huge impact on victims as they come to terms with the fact they have fallen for a scam, and the financial losses that come with it.
“We want to ensure that people do not become repeat victims, so we want to educate them and their loved ones to ensure that fraudsters can no longer take advantage of Hampshire and Isle of Wight residents. Our officers are determined to bring an end to offences of this nature and will take appropriate steps to identify and prosecute the individuals responsible.”
Signs of courier fraud:
• Courier fraud usually starts with an unsolicited telephone call to the victim.
• Typically, the suspect will pose as a bank official, police officer or a computer or utility engineer.
• Courier fraudsters will usually request victims to purchase high-value items such as a Rolex watch and gold bullion, withdraw cash or provide a bank card for collection from a courier.
• Fraudsters will instruct victims not tell any family or friends about what they are doing.
• When carrying out courier fraud, criminals will request that the victim hangs up the phone to ring their bank for confirmation while keeping the line open. The suspect then purports to be bank official and provides false confirmation.
• Fraudsters will also make arrangements for a courier to meet the victim to collect the item they have purchased.
Anyone who receives an unexpected call from someone claiming to be one of these officials should verify they are speaking to someone genuine: hang up, wait five minutes and call back on a number they know is genuine.
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