December 9 2013 Latest news:
Friday, September 20, 2013
Detectives have today issued a further appeal for Essex residents to be on guard against telephone tricksters after two elderly victims in the north of the county were conned out of £24,500.
A man and a woman both in their 70s and from the Braintree area are the latest target for thieves who so far have mainly operated in south and west Essex.
The fraudsters have posed as police officers or bank officials to call nearly 300 people since January, in an attempt to obtain bank account and credit card details.
The vast majority of attempts failed but 40 of the victims fell for a variety of false stories and lost sums ranging from a few hundred pounds to £22,000.
A total of £164,000 has been stolen since the start of the year.
In the latest incidents, at Braintree, the woman was contacted by a man claiming to be from the fraud department of her bank.
He said that a large amount of money had been taken fraudulently from her account and that she needed to transfer the remaining money to a safer account.
The victim was given a bank account number and a sort code and transferred £10,000. She was told not to tell anyone but reported the incident to police on Thursday, September 20.
The second victim was also contacted by a caller claiming to a bank official who was investigating fraud at the man’s branch.
He was asked to make a total of eight cash withdrawals so that his account could be monitored. The man withdrew a total of £14,500, £10,000 of which was in euros, between September 14 and 17 and was then asked to hand the money over to the investigator.
A courier was sent on two occasions to collect the cash, which was never seen again.
Various stories have been used to trick victims but the two incidents in Braintree show that the thieves are using new tactics to obtain larger sums of money.
Inspector Paul Wells said: “Most of the successful frauds in Essex have involved people being tricked into giving their bank account and PIN numbers or handing over their bank cards. These have been then used to withdraw cash or buy valuable items.
“As a result of our widespread media campaigns in Essex warning of the bank card scam the thieves seem to have changed their approach.
“They are trying to convince people that their bank accounts are at risk and money should be moved out of those accounts.
“People should remember that banks would never ask you to move money from one account to another and they would never ask you to hand over cash.”