When receiving a call from an unfamiliar number, do you know how to determine whether a call is fraudulent or genuine?

Sussex Police are keen to re-emphasise this could be courier fraud, which usually starts with a phone call and is one of the most prominent fraud types in the county with more than £2million stolen from victims in the first four months of this year.

The force are asking the public to help make the vulnerable aware, particularly the elderly, as sadly they are the most common victims of this fraud type last year.

Of the cases reported to Sussex Police this year, 91 per cent of victims are aged 60+ with the overwhelming majority of these people being aged 75 and over.
In most cases of this type, a fraudster phones their victim and claims to be from their bank, the police or other law enforcement authority.

They then con the victim into revealing their PIN and credit or debit card details.

The scammer then sends a courier or taxi to pick up the card from your home.

Even the driver may not know they’re being used as part of the scam.

A variation of this scam is the fraudster asks the victim to withdraw a large sum of money, which the police or bank will mark, then put back into the banking system.

They say this will help them identify the corrupt person. Once the cash is handed over, the scammers simply take it.

Another example is when a person pretending to be a police officer phones or approaches you and asks you to buy an expensive watch or other high-value item in order to detect whether counterfeit goods are being sold.

An elderly man from East Sussex reported these calls to Sussex Police after he was repeatedly contacted by fraudsters.

He told us about his experience: “I have been contacted by people claiming to be from reputable companies including Amazon and BT. One of the times I was contacted by someone claiming to be a police officer from West London who told me that someone is using my card to purchase a Rolex watch. According to him it was part of a major investigation. He offered for someone from a local police station to visit my house to prove the call is genuine. Thankfully I passed the phone to my wife who put the phone down on them and contacted the police who told us we did everything right. While my wife and I were able to handle it there are others who won’t be able to. I would urge anyone vulnerable to please be very, very careful who you speak with on the phone especially when they are claiming to be someone from a official capacity. It just reemphasised to me, don’t believe everything you hear or read.”

However, Sussex Police are working collaboratively with banks to prevent people falling victim to this fraud type.

During the first third of the year the force were contacted 26 times by banks who initiated their banking protocol for courier or impersonation fraud which prevented almost £150,000 being handed over to fraudsters.

PC Bernadette Lawrie, Financial Abuse Safeguarding Officer for Surrey Police and Sussex Police said:”Behind all of the clever tricks and ever-changing narratives, there are a few basic recurring elements that are common across many frauds, including courier fraud.

“It pays to stop and think anytime you receive a request for personal or financial information. Remember, if you feel uncomfortable or unsure about what you’re being asked to do, contact your bank or financial service provider directly, using a number you trust, such as the one listed on your bank statements or on the back of your card.

“Alternatively, check your actions with a trusted friend or family member.”

If you suspect you or someone you know has been victim to a scam, report it to Action Fraud or by calling 0300 123 2040.

However, where the victim is vulnerable or elderly, please contact Sussex Police directly on 101.

If it’s an emergency, always call 999.