Police are investigating a scam in which a 72-year-old woman living at Blackboys was persuaded to part with £5,000 by criminals.
On Monday (December 29) the victim took a phone call from a man claiming to be a Fraud Squad detective to say someone stopped in the Midlands was found to have her bank details.
The victim called 999 to check on the caller’s identity and a woman operator assured her that the officer was genuine and reconnected her to him.
The victim also called her bank, but it is believed the criminals had kept the line open in order to masquerade as officials and thus quell any suspicions.
On the ‘officer’s’ advice she took a taxi to Uckfield and drew money out of supposedly compromised bank and savings accounts.
She then followed instructions to hand the cash to a courier he was sending to collect it for evidential and forensic purposes.
Detective Inspector Mark O’Brien, of Sussex Police CID, said: “This type of offence is not just a localised scam, but a regional and national problem involving sophisticated and well-organised criminals.
“In this case it has left the victim in great distress, fearful that she has lost virtually all the money she had.
“It is a callous, heartless crime and we shall be doing all we can to find those responsible.”
He added: “Anyone receiving calls like this should not use their phone for at least ten minutes after ending the initial call, as criminals deliberately keep the line open to pose as other officials.
“As soon as possible after this, or preferably using another phone such as a mobile, they should call 999 and tell police of their suspicions, giving as much detail about the call as possible.”
Anyone who has already had recent similar approaches, or who has other information which may help detectives, is asked to email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 101.