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Telephone Scam Targets Elderly Residents in Dorset

Dorset Police Car At Night

10:50am 12th August 2014

Dorset Police are warning people to stay vigilant against fraudsters who are stealing thousands of pounds from unsuspecting victims.

The scammers usually target the elderly and vulnerable, and will phone up to make them think they have been a victim of fraud.

The victim is then encouraged to contact the police to confirm this, but the fraudsters remain on the line, making it look like the call is from the official number. From here, the victim is usually persuaded to disclose personal information to enable access to their accounts or cards. In other instances, people are told to send money through a courier or taxi.

One woman, who didn't wish to be named, contacted Wessex FM after her dad was involved in a similar scam. The fraudsters managed to gain financial details off him, taking a substantial amount of money from his accounts.

She said: "He was sure; he was asked the right questions. They've got this information from somewhere but he wouldn't fall for this. There's going to be people out there who will be drawing the cash out and the banks aren't protecting them. Somebody somewhere should be watching and thinking 'this isn't right'."

She has this advice for anyone who gets similar calls: "You must not under any circumstances use the line that they used. Go to the police station or contact them via another media and get someone to come and see you."

"The police have been marvellous; we had officers within 20 minutes and then the CID. We had all this wonderful information which my father had written down, even though we didn't realise the significance of it at the time. But the problem is - they have other cases to deal with. I want everyone to be aware, so people can protect their families and elderly relatives. I think they pray on the fact that elderly people like to do their things a particular way and they trust the police, because when my father rung 999, he thought he was talking to the police."

In Weymouth alone last week, 19 cases were reported of courier fraud. In all these cases, the impersonator said they were a police officer, who had someone in custody for fraud. It is common for the fictional officer to claim to be from the Metropolitan Police in London, who will then ask you to contact your local Police station to confirm the details - and remaining on the line while you do this.

DCI Will White, of the regional organized crime unit - Zephyr, said: "The police and the banks will never ask you for banking details or PIN numbers on the phone. Similarly, they would never send a so-called 'courier' to collect bank cards or money.

"In recent incidents the victims did the right thing when they became suspicious of callers. They hung up the phone and called the police. They waited until they could hear a dial tone or used a different phone to call us, ensuring that the scammers weren't still connected to the line.

"The more we talk about this scam and the more people who are made aware of it, the less likely that they are to become victims. We need people to spread the word. You have elderly and vulnerable relatives, neighbours, colleagues or friends warn them to be vigilant and on their guard for telephone calls of this kind.

"We are also appealing to taxi owners to be vigilant, especially if asked to courier small packages to London for elderly people."

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