Fresh spike in scam phone calls costing Herts victims thousands of pounds prompts police reminder

Police have reported a fresh spike in scam phone calls this week

Police have reported a fresh spike in scam phone calls this week - Credit: Archant

Con call crooks fleeced victims of more than £50,000 in Herts this week, and the sudden spike in a problem which police have worked hard to get under control has prompted a fresh reminder to help people spot the warning signs of a scam.

The county force says that 11 people on Wednesday alone reported that they had been contacted by phone fraudsters and in three of these incidents a total of more than £50,000 was handed over.

In one of this week’s crimes, an elderly couple were contacted early on Tuesday evening by someone claiming to be from their bank. They were told their bank card had been used fraudulently and that cash had been withdrawn.

They were told to help the bank’s investigation by withdrawing as much money as possible - allegedly to test whether bank staff were involved in the fraud. They withdrew the money which was later collected by a man.

Another elderly couple were first contacted by someone purporting to be a police officer who said they had arrested someone who had been using the couple’s cards fraudulently.

They claimed the couple’s accounts were no longer safe and persuaded them to withdraw their money on several occasions, which was then collected by a courier. The couple was told this was necessary in order to put their money in a safe place.

There were also calls to elderly people in Letchworth and Baldock, among others, but these potential victims became suspicious and ended the contact without passing on any personal information or money.

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While most people recognise the scams for what they are, those who are not so clued up can not only lose a large sum of money, but their confidence and trust in people is shattered.

Police are asking the public to spread the word among relatives, friends and neighbours to make sure as many people as possible know the rules to follow if you get an unexpected phone call which might be the start of a scam.

Fraudsters use a number of tactics to try and convince people that they are genuinely investigating fraudulent activity and that they need people’s bank cards and money as part of an investigation, including offering reference numbers and contact names.

The police and banks would never ask anyone to send them bank cards, money or any other property. This is simply something that would not happen in any circumstances – no matter what a person says or who they claim to be.

The official police advice on potential phone scams is:

Police and banks would:

NEVER ask for your bank account details or PIN number over the phone, so do not disclose these to anyone, no matter who they claim to be.

NEVER ask you to withdraw money and send it to them via a courier, taxi or by any other means.

NEVER ask you to send your bank cards, or any other personal property, to them via courier, taxi or by any other means.

If you are not happy with a phone call and are suspicious of the conversation you have with the caller, end the call and contact police via the non-emergency 101 number.

Remember, when reporting a suspicious phone call to police, wait at least five minutes before attempting to make the call or use a mobile or neighbour’s phone to ensure you’re not reconnected to the offender.

Phones are now available that automatically block withheld numbers, which are often used by offenders. Phone service providers may also be able to assist with blocking unwanted calls.

Find out more about how to avoid becoming a victim hereListen to a mock scam phone call so you can spot the warning signs