Hebburn pensioner saved from cruel courier fraud scam
Workers became suspicious when the victim and another from Newcastle attempted to withdraw funds totaling more than £13,000 for the fraudsters.
Four more North East pensioners were less lucky, however, and handed over more than £168,000 and €20,500 in cash and a Rolex worth more than £9,000 over a two week period in September.
Three people have now been arrested after officers from the North East Regional Special Operations Unit (NERSOU) joined forces with Durham, Northumbria, Warwickshire, West Midlands and the Metropolitan Police to execute warrants at properties in South East London, Coventry and Rugby.
Those arrested are believed to have played a key role in a so-called ‘courier fraud’ scam, in which victims are cold-called by criminals claiming to be police officers investigating fraudulent activity on their bank account.
Victims are then coerced into ‘gathering evidence’ and asked to withdraw funds, package up their valuables and send these to the ‘officers’ via a courier who attends their home address.
An investigation into the incidents was immediately launched and yesterday three people were arrested in connection with the callous scam.
A 24-year-old woman from London, a 17-year-old woman from Rugby and a 24-year-old man from Coventry were all arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation and have since been released under investigation.
Detective Constable Andy Thompson from NERSOU said: “Courier fraud is an abhorrent scam which sees vulnerable victims coerced into handing over their life savings and valuables to hardened criminals. Because victims generally believe they have been contacted by police officers, learning they have been scammed usually destroys their confidence.
“We want to reinforce the message that no police force or organisation would ever ask anyone to hand over their valuables, withdraw cash or send anything via courier.”
The team’s Detective Sergeant Shaun Fordy from NERSOU added: “As part of Operational Sentinel, our initiative to tackle serious and organised crime, we will actively pursue those offenders who target and exploit vulnerable people in this way, and work alongside our partners to bring them before the courts.”