Warning as North Yorkshire residents falling victim to ‘courier fraud’ scam
Main article content
North Yorkshire Police is warning residents to be extra vigilant after reports of ‘courier frauds’ in recent weeks where victims have been called on the telephone by someone claiming to be an officer from the Metropolitan Police in London.
The victims are informed that someone has attempted to use their card to purchase a laptop or similar and, as a result, their bank accounts are under threat.
Victims are instructed to attend their bank and withdraw all their money for a police officer to attend their home address - the courier - who then takes their money for “safe keeping”.
The victim may be further convinced the call is genuine as the fraudsters will tell the victim to call 999 to check they are genuine.
However, they do not clear the line so the victim, who thinks they have dialled 999 and are speaking to the police, is still speaking to the fraudsters.
The victim is told to attend the bank and withdraw their money. The victim is told they may be challenged at the bank as to why they are withdrawing their money and they are told what to say, for example paying for building work, buying a car etc.
The fraudster will sometime even claim the bank is involved in the crime and that there is an undercover police operation in the bank.
The victim is told not to say anything as it will compromise the police operation. They are led to believe that their cooperation is vital to the investigation.
Often, the victim is called by the fraudster prior to attending the bank and is told to keep their phone on whilst they are in the bank. The victim withdraws their money, often tens of thousands of pounds, which they take home.
The fraudster, posing as a police officer, then attends the home and takes the money, often using a password agreed between the fraudster and the victim.
In 2021 alone, 3,625 people were victims of courier fraud in the UK, with loses totalling more than £15.2 million.
Andy Fox, North Yorkshire Police’s Financial Abuse Safeguarding Officer, said:
“This is a sophisticated fraud perpetrated by experienced criminals who convince the victim their bank account is under threat and they need to act quickly to safeguard their money and to assist a police operation to catch criminals.
“To be clear, a police officer will never get in touch and advise you to withdraw, transfer or pay money and neither will a bank or a building society.
“If you receive a call out of the blue by someone claiming to be from the police asking you to withdraw or transfer your money, this is a scam and you must terminate the call immediately.
“If the person you are talking to ever asks you to lie to the bank or the police, it is a scam.
“If you suspect you’ve been scammed, report it to the police by calling 101 and we will be able to support you as well as protecting others from falling victim to the same fraudsters.”
Four common MOs used by courier fraudsters
This warning comes as a new list of tactics used by courier fraudsters has been unveiled by the City of London Police.
An analysis of data from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) has highlighted four modus operandi (MOs) which are now more commonly being used by fraudsters.
Bank card expiry: Fraudsters claim to be from the victim’s bank and say their card is no longer valid. They ask for the pin number and then send a “courier” to collect the card before using it for fraudulent purposes.
Purchasing high end items: The suspects pretend to be police officers and ask the victim to help with an undercover operation by purchasing expensive items like watches, jewellery and gold. Once the item is bought, the victim will hand over the item to the criminal.
Counterfeit cash/bank investigation: A person claiming to be a police or banking official informs the victim that they need to help with a banking corruption investigation. The victim is told to withdraw a large amount of money and the cash is picked up later by a courier to “check for fingerprints or to identify counterfeit bank notes”.
Computer takeover: The fraudster telephones the victim, purporting to be from their internet service provider, saying that they have had an issue with their internet connectivity and they are due compensation. The victim is persuaded to download a remote access application, giving the suspects access to their home computers. The fraudster persuades the victims into thinking that they have been paid too much compensation and the victims then withdraw cash to pay the money back, which is later collected by a courier.
Signs of courier fraud
Courier fraud usually starts with an unsolicited telephone call to the victim.
Typically, the suspect will pose as a bank official, police officer or a computer or utility engineer.
Courier fraudsters will usually request the victim purchases high value items such as Rolex watch and gold bullion, withdraws cash or provides a bank card for collection from a courier.
Fraudsters will instruct victims not to tell any family or friends about what they are doing.
When carrying out courier fraud, criminals will request the victim hangs up the phone to ring their bank for confirmation while keeping the line open. The suspect then purports to be bank official and provides false confirmation.
Fraudsters will also make arrangements for a courier meet the victim to collect the item they have purchased.