West Sussex woman loses thousands after scam by police-posing fraudsters

An elderly woman has been left 'traumatised' after police-posing fraudsters stole £5,000 on her doorstep.


The 86-year-old victim from Midhurst, West Sussex, was defrauded by a telephone caller, who persuaded her to withdraw a large sum of cash from a local bank and hand it to someone who would call on her with the password 'Merlin', according to Sussex Police.

Police said the call was made on Monday, April 15, by a man claiming to be 'PC Smithers KS376 from Essex County Police' and told her that a relative had been arrested and that she was the victim of fraud. A spokesman said: "Bank staff in Petersfield did query why she was withdrawing the money, but she satisfied them that the reason was legitimate. "When she returned home, a man described as of big build, with black hair and wearing a high-vis jacket collected the money and drove off in a big, old and dirty car."

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The daughter of the victim spoke to the Observer about the ordeal but asked that they both remain anonymous.


She said: "My mum was scammed by people claiming to be police officers. Someone came and took £5,000 from the door after telling my mum what they were doing was top secret. She totally fell for it.

"They have traumatised my mum. She is 86. She is too scared to leave the house to go to the bank again.

"I was in shock myself and now I just want people to know about it. There are quite a few vulnerable people in the area."Sussex Police financial abuse safeguarding officer PC Bernadette Lawrie, offered a word of warning.

She said: "Remember - no police officer or bank staff on the phone will ever ask for your bank details or for cash. Don't give your details or cash to anyone in these circumstances." For further advice and information on preventing this type of fraud, see the Sussex Police website.