Police are reminding West Sussex residents, especially the elderly, to stay on the alert for bogus phone calls and visitors after seven cases of courier fraud or attempted fraud in nine days
Thankfully six of the attempts failed due to alert residents, and one case bank staff. But in one case the thieves got away with £4000.
In each case residents have received phone calls from someone purporting to be a 'Detective Chief Inspector Mark Andrews' from London's Charing Cross Police station. The caller alleges that there has been unauthorised use of a debit or credit card, that someone has been arrested and there is an investigation ongoing.
The caller later alleged to some of the residents that there was an employee at his bank who was passing fraudulent money through his or her account and that they should go to the bank and withdraw cash, in sterling or Euros, to send to the 'officer' via a courier who would call at their home, to take away for a check on whether it is fraudulent.
Calls were received by residents in Bersted, Bognor, Westergate, Chichester and Hambrook, between 8 and 17 January.
All attempts failed except one made to a Bognor resident in his sixties on 15 January. He went to his bank on instructions from the bogus caller and withdrew £4000 which was collected by a man in a car later the same day.
In one of the other six cases the attempt almost succeeded in obtaining £4000 but was prevented by eagle-eyed bank staff. The 82-year-old Chichester woman went into her bank in the city to withdraw £4000 cash as instructed but bank staff become concerned about her welfare, spotted that something was not right, and called the police.
Police attended on each occasion and have been providing support, including advice and assistance on prevention measures.
PC Bernadette Lawrie, the Sussex Police Financial Abuse Safeguarding Officer said; "Remember - no police officer, or bank staff on the phone, will ever ask for your bank details or for cash. Don't give your details or cash to anyone in these circumstances!
"One of the attempts was prevented due to the good work of bank staff, using the nationally agreed police/banking protocol who has trained bank staff in how to spot the signs of this type of crime."
For further advice and information on preventing this type of fraud, see the Sussex Police website
For further information about the banking protocol see here