A WARNING about fraudsters targeting vulnerable people over the Christmas period has been issued after thousands of pounds were stolen from a resident who was hoodwinked by over-the-phone scammers.
According to South Yorkshire Police, an older person is a victim of fraud every 40 seconds and the typical targets of so-called ‘courier fraud’ are individuals over the age of 70.
In courier fraud scams, criminals pose as authority figures, including police officers and bank officials, to gain the trust of their victims.
They employ various tactics to manipulate victims, often initiating contact via email, text message or phone calls.
Fraud protection officer Andy Foster, who has worked on multiple cases in Barnsley over recent years, said: “Courier fraud is a threat that devastates the lives of victims.
“These criminals specifically target older people, resulting in the loss of life-changing amounts of money.
“Most recently a resident was persuaded to hand over their bank cards, PIN numbers and mobile.
“As a result, thousands of pounds was taken from the victim’s bank account.
“The offenders also managed to take out a bank loan in the victim’s name using their mobile phone.
“One prevalent tactic involves convincing victims to withdraw substantial sums of money from their bank accounts and place it in envelopes or bags.
“The fraudsters then dispatch ‘police couriers’ to collect the cash from homes.
“In some instances, victims are coerced into using taxis or mini-cabs to visit jewellery stores and purchase high-value items.
They are also directed to foreign exchange offices to electronically transfer money for alleged safe keeping.”
Courier fraud may also involve tricking someone into surrendering bank cards, PIN number and mobile phones, or other sensitive information, such as answers to security questions.
The fraudsters claim they need this information to verify the legitimacy of an account or assist with their investigation.
However, once they’re armed with these details, the criminals can gain access to your funds and can carry out unauthorised transactions.
Andy added: “The impact on the victim’s health and wellbeing can be catastrophic.
“Once trust is established, the fraudsters weave convincing narratives, falsely claiming fraudulent activity on bank accounts.
“They employ high-pressure tactics to create a sense of urgency and force victims to comply with their demands.
“Landlines are far easier to protect and my advice is to consider purchasing a call blocking device or ask your landline provider if they provide a call-blocking service.”