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Surrey residents warned about sharp rise in courier fraud

4 minute read
Surrey residents warned about sharp rise in courier fraud

Published by Lettie Buxton at 6:00am 17th June 2020.

Surrey residents, especially the elderly, are being warned by police to stay 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, which sees the suspect impersonate an official from the police or the victim’s bank. 

The caller alleges 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. 

According to Surrey Police, 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 aged over 60, with the majority being over 75 and the eldest being 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 are said to have responded to the reports and have provided support and, because fraud victims can be repeatedly targeted, advice about prevention.

PC Bernadette Lawrie BEM, the Financial Abuse Safeguarding Officer for Surrey Police told Eagle Radio:

"It was a crime type that we saw reduce dramatically over the lockdown period.

"As the relaxation of travel advice and things like that, rather than creep up, we've just suddenly seen a real sharp increase just literally in the last week or two in Surrey.

"A high percentage [of victims] live on their own and a very high percentage are over the age of 75.

"So they really are praying on those vulnerable people which is despicable at this kind of time.

"What's really important is to try and tell them this isn't them being stupid or falling for a crime.

"This is clever, clever organised criminal gangs deliberately targeting vulnerable people.

"So it's nothing to be embarrassed about, nothing to feel ashamed of and we really do need it reported to us."

Top tips from Surrey Police 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 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, go to the Surrey Police website