SCAM ALERT: Warning over courier fraud

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Police in Leeds are warning people to be cautious about a new variation of courier fraud involving Foreign Exchange Bureaus.

The Outer North East neighbourhood policing team has taken to social media to warn residents in the city about the scam.

In the message they reveal the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau’s Proactive Intelligence Team has said the victim receives a phone call and is told that they are speaking to a police officer, and that the police want them to assist in an investigation.

The alleged police officer provides them with a phone number and asks them to call back so that the victim can verify their identity, or will direct the victim to contact their bank.

The victim will physically put the phone down, but the fraudster will actually stay on the line – keeping it open.

When the victim phones back they are still speaking to the fraudster who tells the victim that they are at risk of being defrauded and in order to stop this they need their assistance.

Action Fraud has previously warned about a variation of courier where the victim is asked to buy an expensive item such as a watch or a designer coat.

Fraudsters are now evolving their tactics by directing victims to visit Foreign Exchange Bureaus and withdraw foreign currency.

A convicted courier fraudster, interviewed by City of London Police detectives, said: “The banks are catching on to this now.

“Whenever an elderly person comes into the bank to withdraw cash saying that they’ve been a victim of fraud they get suspicious.

“What we do now is tell the victims to draw the cash out from a foreign exchange bureau in Euros.

“They don’t ask them any questions”. The fraudsters will then arrange for the cash to be collected by taxi or courier service.

Action Fraud has also received reports where suspects, posing as police officers or bank staff, tell victims to move their money to a ‘safe’ account that has been created in their name to stop ‘further’ funds being stolen.

The fraudster also said: “Courier fraud gangs are getting squeezed out of London.

“What they do now is go to hotels in cities like Manchester and Bristol and stay there for a couple of weeks.

“They work out of the hotels targeting victims using details from the local telephone and online directories”.

How to protect yourself

A genuine police officer would never contact you in this way.

Banks and the police would never ask someone to aid an investigation by withdrawing or transferring money.

If you receive one of these calls, end it immediately.

If you have handed over any bank account details to the fraudster, call your bank and cancel your cards immediately.

If you want to call your bank, then do it from another telephone. If you don’t have another telephone to use, call someone you know first to make sure the telephone line is free.

You can report a fraud to Action Fraud by using the online fraud reporting tool, or by speaking to specialist fraud advisers on 0300 123 2040