Essex third best in country for combatting courier fraud

THE results of a national operation that targets fraudsters who scam elderly people into handing over thousands of pounds has shown they are the third best in the country.

The City of London Police’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) confirmed Operation Radium, which was launched in January this year, had resulted in 100 courier fraud arrests.

They have arrested 10 of those individuals with Kent Police arresting 16 and West Mercia arresting 12.

They work collaboratively with Kent Police through the Serious Crime Directorate, meaning together we have helped deal with 26 suspects.

They work closely with border forces and the NFIB to help identity offenders and victims from across the region.

Detective Chief Inspector Stuart Truss, who heads our Serious Economic Crime Unit, said: “Courier fraud is callous crime with suspects targeting elderly and vulnerable people to steal their hard-earnt money and on occasions, their life savings.

“We’ve been proactive in quickly identifying suspects, who tend to travel into Essex from London or neighbouring counties, before arresting them and seizing their equipment.

“Since Operation Radium was launched, 26 people have been questioned by detectives from Kent and Essex Police’s Serious Crime Directorate. That’s over one quarter of the 100 arrested in the country.

“While we continue to work with our partners to identity fraudsters, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones. We’ve been pushing the ‘take five’ message and we’d like you to take a few moments ahead of reacting to their demands before calling us.

“I want to also reassure you that we’re working closely with banks to help identify victims of crime who are looking to withdraw their cash. The Banking Protocol was launched four years ago and we’ve had some fantastic responses with criminals being detained while the crime is being committed.”

Courier fraud is where criminals call someone, pretending to be a police officer or bank official.

They warn the victim that there are corrupt bank staff at the branch they use, who are intent on stealing their money, and ask them for their help. Typically, the caller then tells the victim to withdraw a sum of money and a courier is sent to their home address to collect it.

Commander Clinton Blackburn, National Co-ordinator for Economic Crime at NFIB, said: “Courier fraud is a grossly under-reported crime, usually due to victims being embarrassed and ashamed they have become a victim.

“Courier fraudsters are nearly always part of broader criminal gangs: they are persuasive and can be aggressive. This can be particularly intimidating when they turn up on a victim’s doorstep. That’s why we have continued to focus on tackling this contemptible crime.

“Together with colleagues in other forces, including Essex Police, we’re sending a loud, clear message from policing to courier fraudsters – your criminal activity won’t be tolerated.”

Please remember the following:

Your bank or the police will never call you to ask you to verify your personal details or PIN by phone or offer to pick up your card by courier.

Hang up if you get a call like this;

If you need to call your bank back to check, wait five minutes; fraudsters may stay on the line after you hang up. Alternatively, use a different line altogether to call your bank;

Your debit or credit card is yours: don’t let a stranger take it from you. You should only ever have to hand it over at your bank. If it’s cancelled, you should destroy it yourself;

Someone claiming to be from your bank or local police force calls you to tell you about fraudulent activity but is asking you for personal information or even your PIN to verify who you are;

They’re offering to call you back so you can be sure they’re genuine, but when you try to return the call there’s no dial tone;

They say they’re trying to offer you peace of mind by having somebody pick up the card for you, to save you the trouble of having to go to your bank or local police station.

If you have been a victim to this despicable crime, please report to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or by reporting online by visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk.

You can also contact Essex Police on 101 or you can report information online by visiting www.essex.police.uk.

Alternatively, you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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