Sadly, fraudsters are continuing to target some of the most vulnerable residents in Sussex through courier fraud.
Courier is when a fraudster contacts someone claiming to be from a reputable organisation like the bank or police, saying there has been some fraudulent activity on your account or card which needs resolving.
Their objective is to obtain your cash, bank cards and valuables.
The fraudsters are very persuasive and use various tactics, including implying that bank staff are in on the fraud.
Op Signature, which is the force campaign to identify and support vulnerable victims of fraud, have received a spate of reports through to them in the past couple of months.
The overwhelming majority of the 543 reports of courier fraud referred to Op Signature this year have been women aged 75 or more.
Of those 543 cases, around a third (185) have suffered a financial loss which has seen fraudsters take more than £3.6million from their victims
In one case, an 80-year-old woman from East Sussex received a telephone call from a man claiming to be a police officer from another force. The caller claimed the victim’s bank account was at risk and that a member of bank staff was committing fraud against her account.
The victim was asked to assist with a fraud investigation by attending her local branch to withdraw £8,000 which would be collected by a courier later who would examine the notes to ensure they were not circulating counterfeit notes
The caller told the victim to claim it was for her grandchildren should bank staff question her request.
Thankfully when the victim was withdrawing the money the bank identified this was a scam, prevented her from withdrawing money and chatted with her about the scam.
In contrast, a 89-year-old man from West Sussex sadly suffered a financial loss after receiving a call from a fraudster claiming to be from his bank.
The victim was told by the caller that he had cancelled his bank card as it had been cloned and was sending a new one in the post.
After this the victim was then instructed to post his current bank card to a London address to support an investigation into the fraudulent transactions.
Sadly, the victim did this immediately believing he was speaking with his genuine bank.
Before the victim realised he had been scammed and cancelled his card the fraudsters used his bank card to make several transactions totalling £727.
Financial Abuse Safeguarding officer for Sussex Police, Bernadette Lawrie said: “Behind all of the clever tricks and ever-changing narratives, there are a few basic recurring elements that are common across many frauds, including courier fraud.
“It pays to stop and think anytime you receive a request for personal or financial information. Remember, if you feel uncomfortable or unsure about what you’re being asked to do, contact your bank or financial service provider directly, using a number you trust, such as the one listed on your bank statements or on the back of your card.
“Alternatively, check your actions with a trusted friend or family member.”
How to protect yourself:
- Avoid sharing personal information over the phone.
- Never give out your PIN number.
- Always check your phone line has properly disconnected before making another call – try calling a friend first, wait five minutes, or use a different phone.
- Do not transfer or withdraw money on the instruction of an unexpected caller.
- Never give your bank card to a courier or someone you do not know and trust.
- Your bank or the police will never ask for your PIN number or bank card.
- Your bank or the police will never send a courier to your home to collect your card, money, or other valuables.
- The police will not ask you to withdraw money from your account or purchase other valuables.
Do you suspect you or someone you know has been victim to a courier fraud?
Report it to Action Fraud online or call 0300 123 2040.
If the victim is vulnerable or elderly, please call the police on 101.
In an emergency, always call 999
The Op Signature website provides a wealth of information and prevention advice to reduce the risk of becoming a victim of fraud.