A national campaign cracking down on courier fraud has been launched after dozens of local people were conned out of almost £150,000 in 2021.
Police received 68 reports from devastated victims in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland alone last year while over 3,000 people were targeted across the UK.
Detectives are now warning people in Harborough as well as county-wide to be vigilant as a new list of tactics used by criminals has been unveiled.
“Typically, courier fraudsters target their victims by claiming to be a police officer or a member of staff from a victim’s bank and they often pressure people into making quick financial decisions to assist with fictious investigations.
“Nationally in 2021 alone, 3,625 people were victims of courier fraud, with loses totalling more than £15.2 million,” said Leicestershire Police today.
An analysis of data from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) has highlighted four tactics now being used by fraudsters.
· Bank card expiry: Fraudsters claim to be from the victim’s bank and say their card is no longer valid. They ask for the pin number and then send a “courier” to collect the card before using it for fraudulent purposes
· Purchasing high end items: The suspects pretend to be police officers and ask the victim to help with an undercover operation by purchasing expensive items like watches, jewellery and gold. One the item is bought, the victim will hand over the item to the criminal
· Counterfeit cash/bank investigation: A person claiming to be a police or banking official informs the victim that they need to help with a banking corruption investigation. The victim is told to withdraw a large amount of money and the cash is picked up later by a courier to “check for fingerprints or to identify counterfeit bank notes”
· Computer takeover: The fraudster telephones the victim, purporting to be from their internet service provider, saying that they have had an issue with their internet connectivity and they are due compensation. The victim is persuaded to download a remote access application, giving the suspects access to their home computers. The fraudster persuades the victims into thinking that they have been paid too much compensation and the victims then withdraw cash to pay the money back, which is later collected by a courier.
In March a 75-year-old woman from the Hinckley area was contacted by phone by two different people claiming they were police officers from a London station.
They convinced the victim her card had been cloned and told her to buy two high-value Rolex watches in order to trap their suspect.
She forked out about £25,000 to buy the watches from a Leicester jeweller.
A courier was then sent by the fraudsters to collect the watches.
Today Nicole McIntyre, of Leicestershire Police’s Economic Crime Unit, said: “These types of offences are borderless crimes, those responsible target victims not necessarily in their own area but across the country.
“We work closely with forces across the country to ensure any intelligence identified during investigations is shared.
“We support the national campaign asking people to remain vigilant and as well as alerting victims and their families we’re working closely with businesses too.
“We have distributed leaflets via our Neighbourhood Policing Areas to jewellers so they are aware should a customer, particular someone who is vulnerable, approach them to purchase high value watches and jewellery.
“It may not always be the case that they are a victim of fraud but we would encourage those businesses to get in touch so we can quickly eliminate any criminality,” said Nicole.
If you think you’ve been a victim of fraud, contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud online at police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.