A CAMPAIGN has been launched to tackle an increase in fraud.
Dorset Police has joined with other forces in the south west in the campaign, overseen by Zephyr, the regional organised crime unit, to warn people about the threat of courier fraud.
Police say that the area has been targeted by “shameless fraudsters”, who prey on elderly people in particular, duping them out of thousands of pounds.
In Dorset, 68 people alone have been targeted recently.
Officers say that fraudsters are using an approach where they contact victims by phone, before encouraging them – using an “elaborate and convincing reason” to withdraw large sums of cash, which they are then asked to send to London by taxi or via a courier, who collects the cash from their home.
One example saw a Weymouth man in his 80s contacted by a man posing as a Metropolitan police officer, who told him that money had been drawn out of his account and replaced with counterfeit cash.
The victim was advised to call 999, but it is believed that he was still speaking to the fraudsters, who then persuaded him to hand over £26,000 in cash to a courier who came to his home.
DS Andrew Kennard from the Economic Crime Unit said: “We all know someone who could fall victim to this sort of fraud, so it is vital that we work together as a community to make sure the message gets out to everyone – don’t give your personal details or PIN number to anyone, and make sure you always verify the identity of a caller before speaking to them.
“If we all help to spread the word and look out for our family, friends and neighbours, this kind of fraud can be prevented.”
DCI Will White, of Zephyr, added: “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.
Anyone who is concerned should call police on 101 or Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.
JAMES Clover and his wife Trudy, who live on the East Cliff in Bournemouth, nearly fell victim to one of the scams.
Mr Clover, 72, said: “We had a phone call purporting to be from a PC Forster and he gave me his ID number.
“He said he was with the Met Police and he gave me a phone number. He said a person had my address and debit card number.
“They said it was on a chap’s laptop and he had been arrested. I contacted our bank, Lloyds, and they said they had no record of it. I told PC Forster this and he let it go. The police station at Bournemouth said they couldn’t help me as he was supposedly from the Met.
“I was supposed to give my debit card number to him on the phone to see if it matched, but we didn’t of course.
“It wasn’t even a Lloyds card number. If you’re a bit vulnerable and you get phoned by a policeman who gives his collar number you’re likely to believe it.”