Dorset residents lose thousands in latest phone scam

26 April 2016
Fraudsters are still conning elderly and vulnerable people over the phone in Dorset, which has cost local people nearly £1,100,000 since it started in 2014.

Dorset Police launched the awareness campaign Hang Up On Fraudsters in 2015 to make residents aware that criminals were claiming to be police officers or bank workers and telling people their account had been defrauded. They told victims they should call them back to clarify their identity – but in reality they kept the lines open and conned unsuspecting locals out of over a million pounds.

A similar warning about phone scams is now being issued by police. Fraudsters are currently pretending to be from a bank, stating that the account holder is due new credit or debit cards but they need the PIN for the current cards so that they can be cancelled.

The caller states the new cards will be with the customer the following day. If a victim queries the caller, the victim is told that the local branch manager will ring to confirm the authenticity. A subsequent call is made to the account holder and they confirm the previous caller’s details.

The victim then receives a further call from the offenders, asking if they have received their new cards. They obviously haven’t, so the offender states that they will send a courier to deliver the new cards and collect the old ones.

Later that day, a person will turn up at the address, stating they are a courier. They give the victim the ‘new’ cards and collect the old ones. Shortly after this transaction, fraudulent activity is recorded on the account both on-line and at local ATMs.

This year, Dorset Police has received 27 reports of phone fraud between 01 January to 25 April 2016, compared to 407 reports for the same period last year.

The victims, who are on average 79-years-old, have lost a combined total of £43,812 this year, compared to £420,500 for the same period last year: a reduction of over 90 per cent. Nine phone fraud victims have lost money to criminals, compared to 35 in 2015.

Police have received reports of this type of phone fraud from residents living in the following areas of Dorset during 2016: Poole, Bournemouth, Christchurch, Ferndown, Bridport, Portland and Bridport.

Detective Sergeant Garry Knight, of Bournemouth Criminal Investigation Department (CID), said: “We are pleased that there are considerably fewer victims than last year, however; we want this crime to stop completely, so that unscrupulous fraudsters don’t get away with stealing money from elderly and vulnerable people. 

“Telephone fraud has traditionally been a faceless crime, but criminals are now defrauding victims over the phone before collecting their cash cards in person. This poses all kinds of risks to the individual concerned, let alone the financial losses they will incur if they are conned.

“We want people to tell their friends, family members and neighbours that they should NEVER give out bank account details, including their Personal Identification Number (PIN), over the phone.

“Nobody, no matter which organisation they claim to be from, will ask you for bank details over the phone or on your doorstep. This includes the police, banks and retailers.

“If people start asking for personal details - make you hang up, dial 1471 and note the number, then call the police immediately on 101 to report it.”

More information about telephone fraud is available at http://www.dorset.police.uk/Default.aspx?page=8318. 

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