Elderly Victims Targeted by Fraudster Posing as Police Officer

In a concerning incident, two elderly residents of Colchester, both in their 80s, fell victim to a conman impersonating a police officer. The fraudster contacted the victims by phone on April 30, claiming to be involved in an investigation into cloned bank cards.

The suspect informed the victims that a card containing their details had been recovered and instructed them to hand over their bank cards to a “police courier” who would visit their home that evening. The victims were told that the “courier” would provide a pin number upon arrival to confirm their identity.

Fraudster Collects Bank Cards from Victims' Home

At approximately 7:00 pm on the same day, the suspect, described as a black man in his late teens or early 20s, around 5ft 10in (178cm) tall, with a slim build and curly black hair, arrived at the victims’ address in Stanway. He provided the pin number and collected their bank cards.

The suspect was later seen using cash machines at an Esso garage and a Sainsbury’s superstore. At the cash machines, he was wearing a dark blue coat with the hood up, black jogging bottoms, and a black face covering.

Officers are now appealing to the public for any doorbell or dashcam footage taken in the area around the time of the incident. Anyone with information is urged to contact Essex Police, quoting investigation number 42/68312/24.

Police Warn Against Providing Personal Information Over the Phone

PC Matthew Essam of Essex Police stated, “Fraudsters like this are preying on the trust and confidence people have in organizations such as the police. Essex Police officers will never contact you to request your financial details or debit and credit cards.”

He added, “If you are ever in doubt about who is contacting you, hang up the phone and contact the organization directly to make sure they are genuine.”

This incident highlights the importance of remaining cautious when receiving unsolicited calls requesting personal or financial information. It is crucial to verify the identity of the caller by contacting the organisation directly using a trusted phone number.

Courier Fraud on the Rise in the UK

This incident is part of a growing trend of courier fraud in the UK. Cheshire Police have reported over 100 cases since the beginning of 2024, resulting in losses exceeding £2 million.

Courier fraud involves fraudsters making phone calls to potential victims, usually vulnerable or elderly individuals, and persuading them that they are an official person, such as a police officer or a bank representative. The victims are then asked to withdraw money, purchase expensive items, or provide their bank details or cards.

The fraudsters can be highly persuasive and come up with various reasons why the victim needs to carry out these tasks. They often ask the victim to hang up and dial 999 to confirm the identity of the officer, but the call remains active, and the fraudster pretends to be the police operator.

Authorities Urge Vigilance and Offer Safety Tips

To help prevent courier fraud, authorities advise residents never to provide personal or financial information to someone they don’t know or trust, especially over the phone. If a suspicious call is received, it should be reported to Action Fraud immediately.

Genuine organisations will never cold call individuals asking for sensitive information, and if in doubt, it is best to hang up and contact the organisation directly using a trusted phone number from their website. It is also essential to share these safety tips with elderly or vulnerable family members and friends to ensure they do not become victims.

If a person believes they have been a victim of courier fraud, they should contact the police immediately on 101 or Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. By remaining vigilant and following these safety tips, individuals can help protect themselves and their loved ones from falling prey to these deceptive scams.