An elderly woman in Thame has been defrauded of more than £4,000 in a telephone scam.
Thames Valley Police are warning residents to be vigilant following a series of courier fraud incidents, which have involved offenders posing as police officers.
On Friday, May 11 an 80-year-old woman from Thame received a phone call from a man claiming he was a superintendent from the Metropolitan Police, advising her that there had been a fraudulent transaction on her account and £4,800 had been withdrawn.
The man went on to say that this attempt had been intercepted and all funds had been returned to the victims account.
The man then suggested to the victim she should call 999 so that she could be satisfied that she was not being scammed.
Police say offenders will often use this call-back trick to gain your trust, leading you to believe you have ended one call and redialled a new number. However, the offender merely leaves the line open so unfortunately you are still speaking to the original fraudster.
The victim was then asked to withdraw £4,600 from a bank on Thame High Street so that the bank notes could be checked to see if they were counterfeit. The offenders then arranged to collect the cash from the victim’s house using a code word. It is unlikely that this money will ever be recovered.
A police spokesman said: “Scams are constantly changing and becoming ever more complex and harder to spot. Fraudsters are very convincing and recent reports in the Thame area have seen them requesting your assistance to ‘help catch a thief.’”
Another Thame resident received a phone call on Friday, April 20 telling them that they owed a large amount of unpaid tax from a previous year. They were warned that if it was not paid immediately a warrant would be executed for their arrest. The victim was understandably very frightened. They were instructed not to contact any third parties, especially the police, and briefed on how to engage with bank staff.
The victim attended the bank on three separate occasions and transferred over £12,000 to the fraudsters account before bank staff became suspicious. Bank staff then contacted the police who were able to stop two of the transactions. As a result, most of the funds were retrieved.
The spokesman added: “There is a banking protocol where banks have agreed to notify the police of all suspicious and out of character withdrawals made by individuals, but fraudsters are attempting to avoid this detection by briefing victims with bogus stories.
“Fraudsters will often have access to genuine, large corporation bank accounts with worldwide links where fraudulent funds are moved and transferred undetected across the world at the press of a button.
“Your bank or the police would never ask you to meet them at a location and hand over money or anything valuable. They will never call you asking you to verify your personal details or PIN by phone or offer to pick up your card by courier. Hang up if you get a call like this.”
If you have any doubts regarding the legitimacy of the call please disconnect your telephone at the wall, plug the phone back in and call 101.
For more advice about how to protect yourself against fraud and identity theft from Thames Valley Police visit: https://www.thamesvalley.police.uk/advice/protecting-yourself-and-others/fraud-and-identity-theft/