A man posing as a detective from a fictitious police force has scammed two people in Ely and Cambridge out of £14,000. The conman persuaded the victims to hand over the cash after an elaborate story that required them to believe he was a DC Harris of Hammersmith Police – a force that doesn’t exist!
A Cambridgeshire police spokesperson said that in the Ely incident the fraudster called an elderly woman from a withheld number and claimed to be from the police.
“They claimed to have arrested two men in connection with fraudulent activity at her bank in Ely,” said the spokesperson.
“They explained her account had been compromised so she needed to withdraw £6,000 as part of the investigation.”
This initial phone call was then followed by another asking her to read out serial numbers on some of the bank notes she had withdrawn.
The man on the phone then claimed the notes were fraudulent and needed to be handed over as part of the investigation and arrangements were made for the suspect to visit the victim’s home in Ely and collect the notes.
In another similar incident a second elderly woman was contacted by fraudsters using the same sham story.
“In this instance, the man on the phone claimed those arrested had been found with bank cards in her name and counterfeit money,” said the spokesperson.
“The victim was asked to call 999 while still on this call and request to be put through to the fraud squad to verify the caller’s details (in these instances, the fraudsters remain on the line and the call never goes through).
“She was asked to confirm her name, date of birth, address, and what bank accounts she owned.
“She was then asked to go to her banks in Cambridge and withdraw £6,000 from one account and £2,000 from another, being careful not to get fingerprints on the notes. A man then met her in Cambridge to collect the money.”
Cyber and fraud prevention officer Kate Thwaites said: “These crimes often have a devastating impact on the health and wellbeing of the victims and their families.
“We urge residents to please be vigilant to this and pass the message on so others can be vigilant too.
“Please remember your bank and the police will never:
- Ask for your bank account details or PIN over the phone
- Ask you to withdraw money and hand it over to them
- Ask you to send them your bank cards or any other personal property
If you receive a message from an unknown number claiming to be a family member, pause and check in on their usual number before proceeding
Further information about courier fraud can be found on the police website.
Cambridgeshire Constabulary’s fraud and cyber prevention officers are available to present to different community groups on how to protect themselves from scams. Enquiries should be made via email@example.com