Warning after elderly Walpole Highway woman is conned by fake police officers
“If it can happen to my relative - then it could happen to anyone” - that was the message from the family of a woman duped into handing over £1,000s in a cold caller scam.
The man explained how his relative was contacted by phone last Friday (22) by an “articulate and plausible” caller claiming to be from the police.
“I don’t know how they did it, but they seemed to know how to say all the right things to make her believe what they were saying,” said the man.
His relative, a woman in her late 80s from Walpole Highway, was persuaded into “assisting police” by purchasing 4,000 Euros from a bureau-de-change, to allow officers to check if they were counterfeit.
Not only did she do this twice, once on Friday and again on Saturday, she also took a taxi from her home to the bank to withdraw the cash. In total she handed over more than £6,800.
Her relative said: “I would describe her as quite savvy, she was a teacher and is a very capable person. But they convinced her she was doing her civic duty and like a lot of people her age, she has a great sense of doing the right thing.
“Not only did they persuade her to get the money and hand it over to a male courier, they were very clever as they never put the phone down. If the line got cut off they would ring her straight back. They kept the phone line open even when she got in the taxi to get the money.
“Clearly they didn’t want to risk her being contacted by anyone, or contacting anyone herself to check what she was being told. It was very well orchestrated. I really want to get the message across about how plausible they were and how anxious they were to keep her on the line.
“I want to make people understand how important it is to just hang up and check what you are being told, if the caller claims to be from the police or any other organisation put the phone down and call to check.
“I really would never expect my relative to fall for something like this, and it just goes to show it could happen to anyone. She may have been swindled but she is realistic and doesn’t expect to see her money again. But she wants to warn others to be careful over cold callers.”
Police have also issued a warning and are urging people to tell their elderly friends and relatives about this latest scam so they are aware of the dangers of cold callers.
The male courier, who came to collect the victim’s money, is described as being black, around 6ft 1 tall, of a slim build, aged in his 20s and was wearing hi-vis clothing.
Similar incidents have been reported throughout Norfolk and it has been known that suspects request cash is posted or for residents to purchase high value goods, and to then meet the people purporting to be officers to hand over the goods.
Investigating officer, Detective Constable Nichola Lane from King’s Lynn CID, urged for residents to be vigilant to this scam.
She said: “We’re urging members of the public, particularly the elderly who are primarily being targeted, to be vigilant to cold calls made on the telephone.
“Genuine police officers or staff would never approach residents and ask for cash withdrawals to be made or for people to purchase items on their behalf.
“I would ask people with vulnerable relatives, friends or neighbours to make sure they are aware of this type of scam.”
Officers have this advice:
• Never give out personal information about your bank account to anybody over the phone.
• If someone calls claiming to be a police officer, ask for their identification number and police force. Hang up and call 101 using a different phone. If you can’t use a different phone, wait at least five minutes before calling back. A genuine police officer will not mind waiting while you check.
• Police and banks will never ask you to give out personal details such as account numbers or PIN numbers.
• If you have given out information which could compromise your bank account security in any way, call your bank to cancel your cards as soon as possible.
• Never hand over money to someone at the door to be sent off elsewhere.
Anyone with concerns about such calls should contact Norfolk Police on the non-emergency number 101 or 999 if a crime is in progress. Alternatively, contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.