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Elderly and vulnerable in Uttoxeter urged to be aware of courier scam

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ELDERLY and vulnerable residents in Uttoxeter are being warned against falling victim to courier fraud in conjunction with the Courier Fraud Awareness Day.

So far this year there have been 21 incidents of this nature reported across Staffordshire.

Courier fraud is a sophisticated fraud where scammers telephone the victim purporting to be someone from their bank, the police or other law enforcement agency.

They then dupe the person into revealing their PIN and handing over their credit or debit card to a courier or taxi driver, who may not know they are being used as part of the scam.

The victim may be asked to ring the number on the back of their card, thereby further convincing the victim that the call is genuine, however the scammer keeps the line open so that the victim unknowingly talks to another member of the gang, posing as a bank employee.

Police are warning people to be on their guard as criminals work ever harder to defraud their victims and the crime continues to evolve.

Variations of the crime include:

- asking the victim to assist in a police investigation. The victim is requested to withdraw a large sum of cash and take it home, where it is then collected by a courier

- being told there is a corrupt member of staff within the bank and asking for help in identifying them. The victim is told to withdraw a large sum of money which will be ‘marked’, with the purpose of it being placed back into the banking system. A taxi driver is sent round to collect the cash.

As part of today’s Courier Fraud Awareness Day, officers are advising the elderly and vulnerable to be aware of the following:

- police and banks will never ask for your PIN or bank card

- never give your PIN or bank card to anyone

- if you are contacted by someone who asks for these, hang up

- use a different line to report the call to police on 101 or allow at least five minutes for the line to automatically clear

- call 999 if the crime is in action.

DCI Rich Finlow of Staffordshire Police said: "Since the beginning of the year we have seen an increase in reports of this type of fraud and the rouses used by scammers differs.

"They are always looking for new ways of defrauding the elderly and vulnerable, and the crime continues to evolve.

"While we are working with colleagues from other forces to tackle this crime it is also vital that people stay vigilant.

"Courier fraudsters invest time and effort into being convincing because the pay-off is immense.

"This is a massive part of what makes them so successful.

"We want people to question even truly genuine sounding calls and, most importantly, remember police and banks will never ask for your PIN or bank card, so you should never give these away.

"If you believe you have had one of these calls or know someone who has, get in contact with your bank straight away and then report it to police on 101."

Lynn Parker, Ofcom’s director of consumer protection, said: "Ofcom is working closely with the police and the telecoms industry to help stamp out courier fraud.

"Over the last year, a number of telephone providers have made changes to their networks to cut the time a phone line remains open to a couple of seconds. This action has stopped fraudsters from being able to stay on the line to impersonate a victim’s bank or the police – a key feature of how this scam works. We have also been working to drive awareness among consumers to help them avoid falling victim to courier fraud.

"We’re fully aware that there’s more work to do to prevent courier fraud completely. We are continuing our work in this area to ensure that the necessary technical changes are fully implemented across the telecoms sector as quickly as possible."

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