Police have released a public warning after receiving numerous reports of courier fraud in South-west London.
Affected areas so far are Kingston, Tickenham and Surbiton.
The scammers contact their victims via phone claiming to be police officers who are conducting investigations.
They then ask for help in what they claim to be an “ongoing investigation”, the police said in a statement on Saturday.
The victims, which are mostly elderly, are encouraged to withdraw thousands of pounds from their local banks.
The scammers, the police said, issue their victims a password and a courier is sent to collect the money, stating the same password.
Citing an incident that happened in November, the police said a couple in their 80s from Kingston was contacted by a person claiming to be a police officer.
The self-acclaimed officer alleged the couple’s bank card had been compromised and that a suspect was arrested in connection.
The ‘officer’ then claimed they wanted evidence to keep the suspect in custody and they were part of a much wider scam.
The couple were then advised to withdraw £4,000 from their local bank and were instructed not to disclose any information to bank staff, claiming, they were suspected to be in the conspiracy.
The couple were also told to stay on the phone while they carry out all the instructions so they could hear what was happening.
Upon returning home, the couple were further asked to wear gloves and count the money out while they read the numbers on the note to the ‘officer’ on phone.
The ‘officer’ then said the notes were counterfeit and that he would arrange for a courier to collect them.
The couple were also instructed to include their bank cards with the money, then were given a password that the courier would need to tell them.
The courier arrived and confirmed the password with the couple and they handed over the £4000 and the bank cards to him.
In a statement on Saturday, the police stressed that there is no police investigation, that is a scam. ‘Officers will never ask you to hand over money’, the statement reads.
It added, “This is taking place frequently in the area and is disproportionately affecting the more elderly members of the community.”
Detective Constable Laura Travers, of the South West Basic Command Unit, said: “The recent courier frauds taking place in the south-west of London are a real concern, particularly as the group generally affected are the elderly members of the community. This is not only having a significant financial impact but an emotional impact on each and every victim. These crimes take advantage of peoples’ good nature and can have a lasting effect.
“I would urge everyone in the community to discuss this matter with elderly friends and family members to make sure that they are aware of these types of scams. If you receive a call from an unknown person, hang up, take five minutes and then verify the callers’ identification through a trusted method. Genuine police officers will not ask you to take out cash or to send cash via a courier. If you suspect you have been a victim of fraud, please call 101 or 999 in an emergency.”
Police are advising members of the public to hang up, take a few minutes and then verify the caller’s identification through a trusted method if they received a suspicious phone call.
The public is also advised to request for caller’s (officer) details and reference number that the incident relates to, hang up and then call 101 to verify.
Anyone with information that may assist in identifying the suspects in these offences can contact police on 101 quoting reference CAD: 2124/03DEC20.
For more advice on protecting yourself from fraud, visit Info Page
The Metropolitan Police’s ‘The Little Book of Big Scams‘ can be found.
- Genuine police officers will never ask people to withdraw cash
- Police will not ask members of the public to send cash to them via a courier
- All genuine police officers will be happy to verify their credentials
- If you suspect that you have been a victim of fraud, please call 101 or 999 in an emergency