Courier Fraud

What is courier fraud?Over 1,300 courier fraud victims in one year

Courier fraud is when a victim will be conned into handing over money, bank cards or other expensive items, to someone who has called at their property in-person often after making a phone call that kick-starts the attempt at theft.

Courier fraud criminals will ask someone to withdraw money to help a police investigation, that will then be collected from their home.

How do they target people?

In many instances victims initially receive a phone call, normally from someone pretending to be a bank official or police officer, during which they are told to withdraw a sum of money that will be collected from their home address.

This is under the guise of fraud being suspected at the bank, where the account holder is told their help with a withdrawal will aid investigations to identify the corrupt person. Victims are told the bank or police will mark the money and put it back into the system once it is collected from their home, except it goes straight into the hands of thieves.

Another common tactic is making a call to persuade someone into purchasing gold with their own money as part of efforts to aid a ‘police investigation’ - that will then need to be handed over to a courier who will collect it and process it as part of official police work.

On other occasions suspects have invited themselves into homes and collected valuables and other items of worth by saying the victim’s possessions are no longer safe in the property and they, ‘as the police’, can safeguard them elsewhere while the 'open phone' approach can also be deployed to control unsuspecting victims.

During this the criminal will insist on staying on the phone with the victim while they go to withdraw their money or collect belongings, which is a calculated attempt to stop the person who is often elderly, interacting with anyone else where they may have a chance to think about or question what is really happening.

How big is the issue?62% of courier fraud victims were aged 75 to 89

Since the start of this year, Action Fraud says it has received 2,060 reports of courier fraud, with an average loss per victim of just over £5,000.

Those involved in courier fraud will deliberately target older and more vulnerable people. Two thirds (64 per cent) of victims connected to those 2000 crime reports were aged 70 to 89 years old, and over three quarters (84 per cent) of victims were aged 60 to 99 years old.

What are the tell-tale signs which might suggest courier fraud?

Someone who rings claiming to be from the bank or a police force, to tell you about fraudulent activity, but then asks for personal information or pins to verify who you are should be viewed with suspicion.

Incidents where someone who suggests you call them back, in order to be sure they are genuine, but when you try to return the call there's no dial tone should be reported.

Callers who say they are trying to give 'peace of mind' by offering to have somebody come and pick up a bank card, money, or other items, to save you having to take it to your local bank or police station, must be ignored.

On occasions fraudsters have entered someone, posing as a police officer, to take valuables for ‘safeguarding’.

Courier fraud - know the signs

How to protect yourself and loved ones?

No police force or bank, says Action Fraud, will ever offer to collect money or bank cards by courier and people must hang up if they ever receive this type of call proposing such arrangements.

You should only ever hand over your debit or credit card to a member of staff inside a branch of your bank and if you think the card has been cancelled or expired, always destroy it yourself.

Do not ever take phone calls from anyone pretending to be a bank official where they request that you confirm personal details or pin numbers over the phone.

If you need to contact your bank to check any call you have taken was legitimate, wait five minutes as fraudsters may try and stay on the line after you hang up, use a different line altogether where possible and only contact your bank using the number on the back of your bank card or listed on its website. Do not ring back any number you have been given over the phone.

Anyone who fears they, or a relative, has been a victim of fraud should contact the bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud online or by calling 0300 123 2040.

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