Borough Insight

Warning about sudden increase in Courier Fraud

Police are reminding Surrey residents, especially the elderly, to stay on the alert for bogus phone calls and visitors after a sudden, sharp increase in courier fraud in the county.

Since 1 June the force has received 20 reports of this type of fraud, a crime which sees the suspect impersonate an official from the police or the victim’s bank.

The caller alleges that there has been unauthorised use of a debit or credit card, that someone has been arrested and that there is an investigation underway. They state that they need the resident’s help with the investigation and need their PIN and card details provided either over the phone, or handed to a courier who they will send. In four of the recent Surrey cases, a courier turned up at the victim’s home.
Luckily only six of the 20 recent attempts were successful, with a total loss of £58,705. The highest single loss is believed to be £22,000.

All the victims were over 60 with the majority being over 75. The oldest victim was 94 years old. Sixteen of the 20 victims targeted were female, with the vast majority living alone. In one unsuccessful case the victim’s husband had passed away just two weeks beforehand.

Local officers have responded to the reports and have provided support and, because we know fraud victims can be repeatedly targeted, advice about prevention.

PC Bernadette Lawrie BEM, the Financial Abuse Safeguarding Officer for Surrey Police said:
“This is a heart-breaking crime that preys on the most vulnerable in our communities and often targets a generation who believe in helping the police and who want to do the right thing.
“It can leave victims feeling embarrassed, low in confidence and blaming themselves, which they absolutely mustn’t: the only people to blame are the immoral perpetrators of this crime.
"Remember - no police officer, or bank staff on the phone, will ever ask for your bank details, PIN or for cash. Don't give your details or cash to anyone in these circumstances. Hang up the phone straight away.”

Surrey Police’s top tips to help stop this type of fraud are:

- Act with care if you get an unsolicited phone call
- Never transfer funds into a new account on the instruction of an unexpected caller – even if they tell you the account is in your name
- Always check your phone line has properly disconnected before making another call – try calling a good friend first, wait five minutes or use a different phone
- Never share your PIN number or enter your PIN into a telephone
- Never withdraw money and hand it to a courier or a police officer
- Never give your bank cards to a courier or anyone who comes to your door

For further advice and information on preventing this type of fraud, see the Surrey Police website linked here: https://www.surrey.police.uk/advice/advice-and-information/wsi/watch-schemes-initiatives/os/operation-signature/

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