Police are reminding Sussex residents, especially the elderly, to stay on the alert for bogus phone calls and visitors after 35 cases of 'courier fraud' or attempts so far in May including six on one day.
But thanks to alert residents and bank staff, only six attempts succeeded.
In several of the cases residents have received phone calls from someone purporting to be a 'Detective Chief Inspector Richard Harrison'. There is no such officer. 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 ongoing.
The caller says that the resident must either supply their PIN and other card details over the phone, and hand the card or cards to a courier who would arrive at the door.
However thanks to the alertness of residents, and in six cases thanks to the alertness of bank staff , only six of the 35 attempts were successful, with a total loss of £24,800 - the biggest single loss was £7,900. The oldest victim was 96 years old.
18 were in West Sussex, 16 in East Sussex, and one in Brighton
The bank staff interventions saved losses totalling £63,500.
Local officers have responded to every report and have been providing support, including advice and assistance on prevention measures.
PC Bernadette Lawrie, the Sussex Police Financial Abuse Safeguarding Officer said; "Remember - no police officer, or bank staff on the phone, will ever ask for your bank details or for cash. Don't give your details or cash to anyone in these circumstances!
"Six of the attempts failed due to the good work of bank staff, using the nationally agreed police/banking protocol which has trained bank staff in how to spot the signs of this type of crime."
So far in 2019, there have been 198 such incidents across Sussex, of which less than a third (59) succeeded, involving a loss totalling £458,209.
See these top tips to help stop this type of fraud;
- 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 5 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 Sussex Police website here
For further advice on fraud prevention, and information on Operation Signature, the work done by Sussex Police to prevent fraud and support victims, also see the force website here.
Author: Tim Mahony