Thousands stolen from elderly victims in scams
Detectives investigating a series of incidents where people were targeted by fraudsters are renewing their appeal for witnesses and issuing a warning to the public – after two elderly victims of similar crimes have come forward in Weymouth in the last few days.
In the most recent incidents, elderly victims were targeted and handed over £26,000 and £12,000 to fraudsters.
On Friday 4 April 2014, a pensioner in his eighties was at his home address in the Chapelhay area of Weymouth, when he received a telephone call from a man claiming to be a police officer with the Metropolitan Police. The conman told him that money had been drawn out of his account and replaced by counterfeit cash. The victim was advised to call 999 to verify the caller’s details which he did – however it is believed he was still speaking to the fraudsters. He was then persuaded to hand over £26,000 in cash which he gave to a courier who attended his home address.
On Monday 8 April 2014, an elderly couple living in the Westham area were also contacted from a man stating he was a detective with the Metropolitan Police. He persuaded them that their bank account had been comprised and they needed to hand over £12,000 in cash to a courier – which they did.
In both cases the fraudster was extremely convincing. A number of similar attempted scams have been reported in the Weymouth area, with various names being given by the fraudsters, but in all cases they stated they were a police officer.
Detective Sergeant Andrew Marsh, of Weymouth CID, said: “These are callous offenders targeting the most vulnerable members of our community.
“The victims are convinced the calls are legitimate because they believe they are speaking with a police officer.
“I stress that the police, no matter which force, would never ask that cash be handed to a courier.
“I urge residents, when contacted by anyone trying to persuade them to hand over cash to a courier, not to agree to any such arrangements and to inform Dorset Police on 101 at the earliest opportunity.
“I would also ask family members and neighbours to report any concerns to the police.
“These types of scams have been reported in other parts of Dorset and nationally. It is extremely concerning that there have been a number of cases in Weymouth in a very short period of time.
“I strongly urge everyone to be vigilant to make sure they take note of our crime prevention advice.”
- Do not reveal your bank details including PIN to anyone – banks will already have these details and will never ask for your card back.
- If you receive an unexpected call from someone claiming to be from your bank, do not give them any details, hang up and call your bank on their regular contact telephone number and the police – using a different telephone and phone line.
- Do not give your bank cards to strangers whatever reason they may give you to part with them.
- Do not allow inside your home any unknown or unexpected callers. If you are suspicious call 999 immediately.
- Do not hand over any cash to people unknown to you.
Witnesses and anyone with information should call Dorset Police in confidence on 101, quoting incident numbers 08:189 and 07:394. Alternatively, call the free and anonymous Crimestoppers line on 0800 555 111 where mobile phone tariffs may apply.
issued: 9 April 2014