The majority are frauds using the names of HMRC, PPI and online loans, though it has been seen in romance and investment cases too.
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Typically, a victim is contacted by telephone, threatened with legal action over an outstanding, non-existent debt and persuaded to purchase vouchers from a local store. The voucher numbers are provided to the fraudster over the phone as a means of payment.
Another scam, which has reached epidemic proportions locally, is being aimed at people aged over 75 and involves a variation on the courier scam.
Neighbourhood Watch members will already be aware of this through ALERT but the neighbourhood police prevent team is anxious for the message to reach as many people as possible.
Fraudsters claim to be officers of the Metropolitan Police, mainly at Hammersmith, most frequently using the name of Sergeant Anthony Reynolds. They say they are investigating a fraud within their victim’s bank and require assistance.
They then obtain bank details, mobile numbers and other personal information from their targets before asking them to withdraw a large sum of cash from their bank.
While the scam is running, the phone lines are open, meaning that an attempt to call the police or the bank will reach the fraudster instead.
Once the cash has been withdrawn, victims are advised to place it in a carrier bag and secure it, and are further requested to place their hands on a plain piece of paper for fingerprints. A courier arrives shortly afterwards and collects the package.
If you know anyone who might be the target of these crooks, please make sure they know about this – forewarned is forearmed.
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