Detectives are urging Cheshire residents to be vigilant after an elderly woman was scammed out of a large quantity of money.
The pensioner from Warrington received a phone call from a man purporting to be a senior police officer. He told her that men had been arrested for taking some money out of her bank account and that the rest of her savings were not safe.
He gave her a number to call for someone else to verify his identity and once she had done this she was coerced into withdrawing a large quantity of cash and foreign currency from her bank. The so-called senior police officer then instructed the woman to hand it over to a courier for safekeeping.
It came to light that she had been scammed after staff at her bank put a block on her account and they and police officers spoke to her about her recent suspicious withdrawals.
An elderly man from Chester also recently handed over a large quantity of foreign currency to a courier after being duped by a similar scam in which a man purporting to be a senior police officer convinced him that his credit card had been used by someone else and that his money was not safe.
Detective Inspector Glyn Leech said: “Cheshire Police are investigating a number of incidents whereby elderly victims are being contacted by criminals involved in fraudulent acts.
“Victims are being coerced into believing their bank accounts have been placed at risk and asked to withdraw money from foreign exchanges.
“Arrangements are then made for a courier to collect the cash for ‘safekeeping’ whilst enquiries are supposedly being undertaken by police or other law enforcement authorities.
“We believe that victims are being targeted county wide, with us investigating reports of people being scammed in areas including Warrington, Chester and Macclesfield.
“I urge anyone else who has been targeted by this scam, or other similar scams, to call us on 101 and I also want everyone to follow our advice on how to avoid becoming a victim.”
The force’s advice on avoiding such scams is:
- The police will never ask you to become part of an undercover investigation or for you to withdraw money and hand it to them for safe-keeping
- Be wary of any calls, texts or emails purporting to be from the police asking for your personal or financial details, or for you to transfer money
- If you are approached, or feel something is suspicious, hang up the phone and do not reply and then report it to police on 101, Action Fraud and your bank on their advertised number.
DI Leech added: “If you have elderly relatives or neighbours please ensure that they are aware of this emerging trend and that you do everything you can to safeguard them and their savings.”
Sergeant Paul Fegan, the investigating officer for the incident in Warrington, said: “I would like to appeal to anyone who thinks they may have seen the courier collecting money from the elderly woman from Warrington.
“She handed money over to him near to Poundstretcher by Warrington Bank Quay Train Station at around 3.30pm and 6pm on Tuesday 1 May.
The man is described as black or possibly Asian, about 6’ tall and of medium build. He had thick short black hair.
“If you think you saw him or have dashcam footage of him please call police on 101, quoting incident number 53112. Alternatively you can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”