There seldom seems a week without another case of courier fraud hitting the headlines. The latest to come to court involved two men in their fifties who lost thousands through the simple scam.
The con is to convince innocent people that the caller - who pretends to be from a bank or the police - is genuine. That’s usually achieved by telling victims to call back using the phone number on the reverse of their bank card or the local cop shop.
But the caller doesn’t hang up which means the victims think they’re dialling a new number when they’re still actually connected to the crook. Who then - for ‘security’ reasons - demands PIN numbers and sends a courier to pick up their plastic cards.
In the latest case one man from Wembley had £7,000 taken from his account while another, from Twickenham, had more than £4,000 stolen. The crook - Mohammed “Abbas” Ali - was jailed for two years at Blackfriars Crown Court on Friday.
Ian Poole of the Metropolitan Police Service’s Fraud Squad, said afterwards: “This is a cold-hearted, callous crime often perpetrated on elderly and vulnerable individuals, and we are determined to bring anyone committing this crime to account.”
People fall for this scam because they are unaware of the trick or because scamsters are getting more sophisticated. The police say that 2,556 courier fraud offences were reported in London alone in the 12 months to the end of March and the crime continues to evolve.
So don’t be alarmed if you notice a police presence in your local bank branch today. They’re simply taking part in Courier Fraud Awareness Day and will be handing out copies of The Little Book of Big Scams, which gives details of the fraud and tips on how to spot it.
It’s particularly elderly and vulnerable people who are targeted so raising awareness about it is to be applauded. If you don’t bump into a police officer today you can download the book at www.met.police.uk/docs/little_book_scam.pdf