Police Warn of £15m Courier Scams

Police are urging the public to be vigilant after revealing that thousands of people fell victim to so-called “courier fraud” last year, leading to losses in excess of £15m.

Some 3625 Brits were conned in 2021, with scammers using a variety of tactics to trick them into handing over cash, cards or expensive items to a courier dispatched to their address.

The City of London police force, which runs the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB), said there were four common types of courier fraud, all of which usually start with an unsolicited telephone call:

  • A scammer pretends to be from the victim’s bank, claiming their card doesn’t work. They ask for the PIN and send a courier round to collect it.
  • The fraudster masquerades as a police officer and asks the victim to help with an undercover operation by buying expensive items like jewelry and gold, which are then handed over.
  • The victim receives a phone call from someone claiming to be either a police officer or banking official. They pretend to need help with an investigation into banking corruption. The victim is told to withdraw a large amount of cash to be handed to a courier so they can ‘check’ for fingerprints or to identify ‘counterfeit’ notes.
  • The scammer claims to be from the victim’s internet service provider (ISP), saying they are due compensation for a service issue. The victim is persuaded to download a remote access Trojan, providing access to their computer. The fraudster then tricks the victims into thinking they have been paid too much compensation. The victim withdraws cash to pay the money back, which is later collected by a courier.

The elderly are particularly at risk from this type of fraud, which the scammers often urging them when they call not to tell any friends or family about what they’re doing, according to City of London Police.

One 83-year-old woman was apparently conned out of over 30,000 after handing over her debit card and driver’s license.

“Fraudsters are callous individuals and courier fraud is no exception. They prey on some of the most vulnerable and most trustworthy members of society. Victims of courier fraud typically tend to be between the ages of 70 to 89 years old, with women more likely to be targeted than men,” explained superintendent Edelle Michaels from the lead force operations room at the City of London Police.

“We would urge everyone who is involved in a caring or supportive role to people of these ages to start conversations about the tactics used and warning signs to look out for on courier fraud. Just having that conversation could be the difference on whether someone becomes a victim of this trust-eroding crime.”

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