This Wednesday, 4th June the Metropolitan Police is holding a Courier Fraud Awareness Day.
Courier fraud is a sophisticated fraud where scammers telephone the victim purporting to be someone from their bank, the police or other law enforcement agency. They then dupe the person into revealing their PIN and handing over their credit or debit card to a courier or taxi driver, who may not know they are being used as part of the scam. The victim may be asked to ring the number on the back of their card, thereby further convincing the victim that the call is genuine, however the scammer keeps the line open so that the victim unknowingly talks to another member of the gang, posing as a bank employee.
More recently, fraudsters have pretended to be police officers, telephoning the victim and asking them to assist in a police investigation into a bank employee. The victim is requested to withdraw a large sum of cash from their bank and take it home, where it is then collected by a courier.
In the last year, the percentage of unsuccessful offences has increased to from 40% to 76% of all courier fraud calls reported to police. Officers believe this success is due to a combination of intensive efforts by Ofcom and the telecommunications industry to cut the amount of time taken to disconnect a call, and increased public awareness of the scam.
Despite these advances, police are warning people to be on their guard as criminals work ever harder to defraud their victims. 2556 courier fraud offences were reported to the MPS between April 2013 and March 2014 and the crime continues to evolve. Variations of the crime include:
– being told there is a corrupt member of staff within the bank and asking for help in identifying them. The victim is told to withdraw a large sum of money which will be ‘marked’, with the purpose of it being placed back into the banking system. A taxi driver is sent round to collect the cash.
As part of today’s Courier Fraud Awareness Day, officers are advising Londoners and particularly those who may be elderly or vulnerable to be aware of the following:
– Police and banks will never ask for your PIN or bank card
– Never give your PIN or bank card to anyone
– If you are contacted by someone who asks for these, hang up
– Use a different line to report the call to police on 101 or allow at least five minutes for the line to automatically clear
– Call 999 if the crime is in action.
A/DCI Gary Miles of The Metropolitan Police Service’s Specialist and Economic Crime Command, said:
“Much has been done in the last year to tackle courier fraud, but scammers are always looking for new ways of defrauding the elderly and vulnerable, and the crime continues to evolve. It is vital that people stay vigilant. Courier fraudsters put a huge amount of time and effort into being convincing because the pay-off is immense. This is a massive part of what makes them so successful. We want people to question even truly genuine sounding calls and, most importantly, remember police and banks will never ask for your PIN or bank card, so you should never give these away.”
Lynn Parker, Ofcom’s Director of Consumer Protection, said: “Ofcom is working closely with the police and the telecoms industry to help stamp out courier fraud.
“Over the last year, a number of telephone providers have made changes to their networks to cut the time a phone line remains open to a couple of seconds. This action has stopped fraudsters from being able to stay on the line to impersonate a victim’s bank or the police – a key feature of how this scam works. We have also been working to drive awareness among consumers to help them avoid falling victim to courier fraud.
“It’s very encouraging to see this work paying dividends, with more fraudsters being foiled in their attempts to scam people. But we’re fully aware that there’s more work to do to prevent courier fraud completely. We are continuing our work in this area to ensure that the necessary technical changes are fully implemented across the telecoms sector as quickly as possible.”
Detective Chief Inspector Perry Stokes, Head of the Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit, said:
“Fraudsters can be extremely persuasive – do not be fooled. Your bank or the police will never call you to request your bank card or ask you to transfer money to another account. Anyone attempting to do so is a fraudster. If someone on the phone asks for it, hang up immediately. If you believe you have had one of these calls or know someone who has, get in contact with your bank straight away.”
Further initiatives taking place on the day include:
– Local police distributing the ‘Little Book of Big Scams’ in high street banks including Natwest, Barclays and Santander
– Officers giving presentations to local elderly residents and liaising with charities such as Age UK and Silver Line to advise how to avoid becoming a victim of courier fraud
– Officers manning fraud prevention stalls at transport and community hubs
– Follow-up visits to victims and visit potential victims
– Visits to cab and courier firms to advise on spotting courier fraudsters
– Attending the Southwark Pensioners’ Forum at Portcullis House with Simon Hughes MP
The Little Book of Big Scams can be downloaded here: http://www.met.police.uk/docs/little_book_scam.pdf