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Elderly phone fraud victim urges residents to be wary of "Courier Con" thieves

Thursday 13 February 2014

A pensioner duped out of hundreds of pounds by a cruel phone con has warned other residents to be wary of thieves posing as police officers.

Courier fraudThe 85-year-old from Birmingham handed over his bank card and PIN number to "convincing" bogus detectives who called claiming his account had been hacked by card cloners.

He was awoken in the early hours of January 17 and told his card had been copied and used on a £1,000 shopping spree.

The scammers advised him to call his bank to block further transactions − but they jammed the line so, when the former coal merchant re-dialled thinking he was giving security details to bank staff, he was actually still speaking to the bogus caller.

They dispatched a ‘courier’ to collect his bank card − saying it was needed as evidence − before helping themselves to more than £300 in a matter of minutes.

Speaking from his Handsworth Wood home he labelled the fraudsters "low-life cowards" and urged other residents to protect themselves by switching on to the scam.

He said: "I called what I thought was my bank and then dialled 999 − but on both occasions, because I used the same phone, it turns out I was still speaking to the same people. First they pretended to be detectives, then bank staff and then 999 call handlers − they must have passed the handset between them because each voice sounded different.

"I had no idea people could jam a phone line by not hanging up. I found out later that a neighbour had heard of this kind of scam but not told anyone − if I’d have known I’m sure I wouldn’t have fallen for it.

"These are low-life cowards stealing savings and pension money from the elderly…people need to be made aware this kind of thing is going on so they can protect themselves. They are very convincing in getting your bank card and details and, as I found the hard way, can quickly take hundreds of pounds from your account."

Less than an hour after handing his card over to the hoax courier the 84-year-old became suspicious and dialled 999 from a mobile phone…and was told by genuine officers it was a fraud and advised to contact his bank.

The "Courier Con" gained popularity amongst scammers last year and in the first six weeks of this year more than 30 people − whose ages range from 59 to 93 − have fallen for the ruse and collectively lost around £10,000.

West Midlands Police Chief Inspector Artherley, said: "These con artists are cold, calculated thieves: their tactic is to scare and confuse elderly people into handing over sensitive information.

"The most important thing to remember is that genuine police or bank officials would never ask you to divulge PIN numbers over the phone or send couriers round to collect cards. If you receive a call requesting this then hang up and contact police.

"If you’ve got elderly relatives, friends or neighbours please make sure they are aware of this scam and remind them never to disclose bank details or hand over cards to anyone.

"Our advice is always to be wary of unsolicited callers, whether on the phone or in person, and if in doubt, hang-up or close the door...and call police. Don’t get conned!"

Protect yourself against courier fraud:

  • Your bank or police will never send a courier to your home to collect bank cards
  • Your bank or police will never ask for your PIN number
  • If you receive one of these calls end it immediately

If you’ve been a victim call your bank and cancel your cards immediately − try to call from a different phone if reporting it immediately after being contacted by someone you believe was a scammer − and report it to West Midlands Police on 101.