Officers in South Yorkshire Police's fraud co-ordination team are urging residents to beware of courier fraudsters targeting vulnerable victims in our area, with one elderly man losing some £6,000.
Courier fraud is a scam where offenders phone victims and claim to be from a bank, the police or another official authority, and convince the victim that they need their help to gather evidence and solve a fraud case.
The victims may then hand over 'evidence' in the form of their bank cards, cash and/or other high value goods to a courier who is sent to their home.
DC Tim Bell, from the force's fraud co-ordination team, said: "Action Fraud has made us aware of a number of courier fraud incidents in Barnsley and Sheffield over the last few days, including six in the same day yesterday (Tuesday 10 November).
"Courier fraudsters are extremely cruel - they pose as officials and then betray their victims' trust in a nasty scheme to steal their money or expensive items.
"In one recent incident, an elderly gentleman lost £6,000 after receiving a call from somebody who claimed to be a DS Brown from the Paddington fraud squad. This fake police officer told the victim their bank account had been used fraudulently and he needed the victim's help to investigate the bank.
"The victim withdrew £6,000 from his bank account and, when he got home, gave the serial numbers of the notes to the fraudster. The victim was told the notes were counterfeit and needed to be collected by an officer. A few hours later, a man turned up at the victim's home and collected the money.
"Of course, this was all a horrible trick and the offender has got away with £6,000 in cash."
Before police were called, the same victim had also gone to a watch specialist and tried to buy two Rolex watches totalling £25,000. Luckily, the staff suspected something wasn't right and raised the alarm.
In other recent scams, a 75-year-old woman was told she owed £2,000 in unpaid tax and had to make repayments using Amazon vouchers. The offenders sent a taxi to collect her and take her to the shop to buy the vouchers.
DC Bell added: "I'd urge anyone who has elderly or vulnerable relatives or loved ones to check up on them and make sure they know not to fall for it if they are contacted themselves.
"If you think you are on the phone to a fraudster, hang up the phone straightaway and then call back your bank, or the police, on a trusted number using a different phone line or mobile. If you can't do that, wait at least 30 minutes before using the same phone, in case the fraudster is still on the line."
Reports of courier fraud should be made to Action Fraud on 0330 123 2040 or online at www.actionfraud.police.uk.
If somebody is present at your address to collect money, bank cards or other items, call 999 and quote Operation Radium Mike.