North Yorkshire Police has issued a warning to residents and businesses across the county following a series of high-value courier frauds in Harrogate.
A courier fraud is when a victim receives a phone call from someone claiming to be from the police or their bank’s fraud team.
They usually tell the victim they are investigating the bank due allegations of theft from customers.
They then instruct the victim to withdraw money and hand it over to a courier to be used in evidence against the bank.
Three separate incidents involving this method recently occurred in Harrogate.
Between 26 and 30 March 2020, a 60-year-old man was conned out of £5,000. He refused to travel to London to hand the money over in person, but he agreed to pass it to a courier.
An 80-year-old woman almost lost £6,500 on 30 March. Thankfully, the victim became suspicious after speaking to and receiving fraud advice from her bank. The suspect did not re-contact her.
Two suspects targeted a 65-year-old woman between 31 March and 14 May. One man claimed he was working for the VISA fraud team and she was passed through to another man who pretended to be a police office. Over the coming days and weeks, the victim was persuaded to withdraw her money from the bank and to buy gold as a safer investment. When the gold arrived at the woman’s address, she agreed for it to be collected by a courier to be put into safe storage. She lost £50,000 in total.
North Yorkshire Police’s Economic Crime Unit is continuing to investigate these incidents.
Detective Constable Neil Brodhurst, a Fraud Investigator, said: “Courier fraud is clearly a despicable and malicious crime which preys upon vulnerable people who are genuinely frightened that their life savings are at risk.
“It is vitally important for residents to know that the police or a bank would never contact people in this way. They would also never ask for highly personal information such as PINs and bank account numbers over the phone.
“If you or someone you know receives such a call out of the blue, the best advice is to end the call straight away and report it to the police and the bank for investigation.”
DC Brodhurst added: “While the investigations into the three incidents in Harrogate are ongoing, we are urging other potential victims of courier fraud from across North Yorkshire and York to come forward without delay.
“Please do not feel foolish in any way. We are here to help and support victims and we will do everything in our power to bring suspects to justice.”
Victims or anyone with information that could assist the investigations, are asked to call North Yorkshire Police on 101, select option 1, and speak to the Force Control Room.
Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.
Please quote reference number 12200087225 and say it is for the attention of DC Neil Brodhurst when providing information.
For more information and crime prevention advice, please visit the North Yorkshire Police website www.northyorkshire.police.uk/staying-safe/fraud/Last modified: June 10, 2020