Detectives are warning the public after a spate of courier fraud scams have left Cheshire victims without thousands of pounds.
Since November there have been four incidents, one in Wilmslow, one in Crewe, one in Handforth and another in Warrington, reported to Cheshire Constabulary.
Courier frauds are mainly committed by organised crime groups (OCGs) and a member of the OCG, known as the ‘victim communicator’, makes a phone call to vulnerable potential victims, persuading them that they are a police officer or work at a bank.
They then manage to get the victim to cooperate with an ‘operation’ designed to gather evidence or identify offenders responsible for a fictional offence.
The victims are asked to withdraw money from their bank, purchase an expensive item and/or provide their bank details or card to assist with the operation.
Money, items or documents are then handed over to the ‘courier’, who attends the victim’s address or meets them nearby, on the promise that the money or item will be returned or compensation will be provided.
Sadly, no compensation is provided and the money will not be returned. Leaving victims, in some cases, out of pocket of thousands of pounds.
Detective Sergeant Chris Jacques from Cheshire Constabulary’s Economic Crime Unit said: “In the last couple of months we have had reports of people being a victim of this type of crime.
“We therefore want to warn others to prevent them from also becoming a victim and to also encourage people to tell elderly relatives and neighbours about it so they are aware of the signs.
“These scammers will stop at nothing to make a criminal gain and can be extremely convincing and very persistent.
“By using these methods they can often blindside their victims into believing them, before taking hard-earned money.
“It is important for the public to remember that police officers, banks and other services will never ask you to withdraw money or provide card details over the phone.
“Telephone numbers can be easily spoofed and you should never trust a number displayed on your telephone.
“Another concerning trend is that scammers have been asking victims to call back on 999, 101 or 162 to verify that they are genuine.
“This is part of the scam and they keep the line open so that the victim continues speak with the scammers believing that they are genuine officials.
“Anyone who is receiving calls asking for money to be withdrawn and handed over to a courier should call 101 or report it to Action Fraud.”
Anyone who believes they have been contacted fraudulently or have been a victim of fraud should call either Cheshire Constabulary via 101 or online or you can contact Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040.