WE are being urged to stay alert following cases of courier fraud across and Sussex after the region has seen a small rise in reports. 

Courier fraud is when a fraudster calls the victim pretending to be from the police or a bank and asks for money under false pretences. They will arrange for someone to pick up the money from the victim’s home, leaving the victim out of pocket. Most recent cases have involved the suspect taking the victim’s bank card and withdrawing money from their account.

In Sussex, the average loss to victims since August this year has been £8,249 with 76% of victims aged 75 and over. In the case study below, an elderly man was targeted by fraudsters pretending to be from his bank. Sussex has seen a rise of 7% in courier and impersonator fraud reports in August – November 2020 versus the same period in 2019.

A 78-year-old woman in Horsham had her bank cards taken on 16 November. The victim received a call from suspects pretending to be from her bank. They advised that that someone would attend her address to collect the card. The victim was given a reference number over the phone before a man came up to pick up her card. She was also asked for personal information including his PIN number.

After several days, the victim became aware of the scam and reported it to police. She had been alerted to it by her bank after large sums of cash were withdrawn from her account in Croydon. The victim lost a total of £840. 

PC Bernadette Lawrie, Financial Abuse Safeguarding Officer said: “Criminals continue to exploit people through this appalling method and we are urging the public to be cautious of unexpected phone calls from people asking for personal information.

“If you have an older family member, we urge you to talk them through these tips for keeping safe from these courier fraud.”

To protect yourself from courier fraud, we advise you follow the below steps:

  • Act with care if you get an unsolicited call
  • The police or your bank will never ask you to withdraw money or hand over your bank cards
  • Never transfer funds into a new account on the instruction of an unexpected caller – even if they tell you that the account is in your name
  • Always check your phone line has properly disconnected before making another call – wait five minutes after the suspicious call before making another
  • Never share your PIN number or enter your PIN into a telephone
  • Never withdraw money and hand it to a courier or anyone who comes to your door
  • Never give your bank cards to a courier or anyone who comes to your door.

Please pass this advice onto your loved ones, particularly those who are elderly or vulnerable.

If you believe you or someone you know has been a victim of fraud, you can report information online or by calling 101. Always call 999 in an emergency.

For more information and advice about Operation Signature, Sussex Police’s initiative to identify and protect vulnerable victims of fraud, please see the website here: https://www.sussex.police.uk/advice/advice-and-information/wsi/watch-schemes-initiatives/os/operation-signature/