The first victim, a man in his 80s, was phoned on Tuesday 24 April 2018 by a man who claimed to be a ‘PC Mark Lawrence’ from the Fraud Squad in Scotland Yard.
He said that the elderly man could call 999 and check his collar number with the Force Control Room which the victim did. However, unbeknown to him, he was still on the phone to the original caller who hadn’t hung up the phone.
The victim spoke to a woman who ‘confirmed’ these details and put him through to a fake ‘Detective Sergeant Mark Douglas’ who said that they suspected that the victim’s bank was being targeted by Romanian criminals and that they needed his help to rectify the situation.
The fake ‘officer’ kept the victim on the phone for over two hours whilst he went to his bank and, under the guise that he was using it to buy a car, withdrew £3,000 in cash so that the ‘police’ could analyse it to see if there was counterfeit money in the cash bundle.
The fake ‘officer’ also remained on the phone whilst a different man, from what could have been a fake courier agency, visited the victim’s home address to collect the money using a password ‘SUNFLOWER’ which had been provided to the victim earlier in the phone call.
The man become concerned the following day when the ‘officer’ did not call as he said he would. He visited his bank again where it became apparent that he had become a victim of fraud.
In a second incident, a woman in her 80s, was also phoned on Tuesday 24 April 2018 by a man who claimed he was Sergeant Wiggen of the Fraud Squad in New Scotland Yard.
He stated that there had been suspicious activity on her account and that she needed to go to her local bank and withdraw £17,000.
Fortunately, on this occasion, the banking protocol was initiated by the bank who blocked the removal of any money and informed North Yorkshire Police.
Investigations are ongoing and the victims are being supported by officers.
PC Amanda Hanusch-Moore from North Yorkshire Police’s Harrogate Neighbourhood Policing team said:
These heartless fraudsters are sophisticated and well-rehearsed and whilst they typically prey on the elderly, any one of us could fall victim to their deceptions if we are not vigilant.
It is important to remember that the police or your bank will never ask you to withdraw or transfer money from your bank account, even to aid an investigation.
If you receive a call of this nature or have any suspicious at all, please be reassured that it is okay to hang up the phone and end the conversation.
If you believe you or a family member have been a victim of this type of crime, please call us on 101 or report it to Action Fraud by visiting actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040. In an emergency dial 999.