Warning over bogus police officers in Harlow as elderly victim scammed

Communities / Sun 8th Mar 2015 at 06:28pm

DETECTIVES are warning residents in the Harlow area to be wary after a sudden surge in phone calls by fraudsters posing as police officers.

Police have received five reports in the last two days and in one case the thieves have been successful in stealing money.

DC Leo Fordham, of Harlow CID, said: “All of those targeted so far have been elderly residents. They have been contacted by either a man or a woman claiming to be a police officer. They have then told the victims that two people have been arrested for stealing money from their bank account and they have given the victims crime reference numbers to make the calls seem more genuine.

“In the one successful theft, an 88-year-old victim was called shortly after 6pm on Friday March 6 by a woman. She said that two boys had been arrested for stealing £300 from the victim’s account and asked if the victim still had her card.

“The victim confirmed she did, and was then passed to a Scottish sounding male who said he was from CID. He told her that the police would need her card and a courier would collect it.

“The victim did not disclose her address and the man stayed on the line for some time before telling her that someone had arrived at her house. The man who took the card is described as tanned, with loose curly hair, around 5ft 6in tall and was wearing a shirt and dark trousers.

“The man claiming to be a detective then called back a short time later and told the victim that she needed to give her cash and jewellery to police for safe keeping. The same man came around again and was given £160 in cash and £200 of jewellery.

“There was a further call to arrange to pick up another bank card and the victim rang us on Saturday to find out when we would be attending and it was at that point that the offence came to light.

“We would like to remind everyone to be on their guard against this type of fraud. Police would never ask you for your bank details or ask you to transfer or withdraw funds. If you do receive calls like these do not fall for their claims and just put the phone down immediately and call police on 101, using a different phone if possible.

“As these fraudsters generally target the elderly and vulnerable we would also ask people to share the following advice with elderly neighbours and relatives.”

*If you are suspicious about a telephone conversation you should end the call and contact police via the non-emergency number, 101. Remember to use a mobile phone or a friend’s phone or wait at least five minutes before calling to ensure you aren’t reconnected to the offender.

Please also remember that your bank and the police would:

• NEVER ask for your bank account details or PIN number over the phone.

• NEVER ask you to withdraw money and send it to them.

• NEVER ask you to send them your bank cards or any other personal property.

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