Warning as residents conned out of £20,000 in fake police officer scam

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Police have issued a warning after three pensioners were conned out of more than £20,000 by scammers pretending to be police officers.

On Monday September 4 police said an 84-year-old woman from Westbourne received a call from a man pretending to be a police officer in Holborn.

He told her he was investigating an incident and asked her to send bank cards and cash to check for fingerprints. He claimed the bank was involved and she withdrew £8,000 from her bank and handed it to a courier, together with her bank card and cheque book, two days later.

On Thursday September 7 officers said a man pretending to be a detective from Hammersmith rang an 85-year-old woman in Chichester. He said her pin had been compromised in Scotland and told her to choose a new password.

Over the next four days he got her to withdraw a total of £7,500 cash on the pretext that this would prevent it being taken out by someone else. She gave the cash in three amounts to couriers who came to the door on three separate occasions.

On Tuesday September 12 a man giving the same details rang a 90-year-old woman in Chichester, police said. He claimed people were using counterfeit money and they needed her help to investigate. He asked her to call 161 where a woman purported to confirm that he was a genuine officer and told her to choose a password. He told her to withdraw £2,500, which she did and a courier came and collected the cash.

She received another call the next day and was instructed to do the same. She made two withdrawals of £2,500 which were collected by a courier.

PC John Blight said: “The victims were deceived by different ruses into handing over large sums of cash.

“The police would never contact anyone and ask them to withdraw or hand over cash to officers. People carrying out these frauds are deliberately targeting those they think are vulnerable, so please look out for your friends, family and anyone you feel may be at risk by passing on this message. Whenever there is doubt that a telephone caller is genuine, simply hang up the phone.

“If you know anything about these incidents or if you yourself have fallen victim to fraud of this type, please report online or by calling us on 101, quoting Operation Signature.”

For further information on this type of fraud and how to prevent it see the Sussex Police Op Signature pages.