Essex: Warning as telephone scams increase across county

Police have warned residents over the rise in telephone scams

Police have warned residents over the rise in telephone scams - Credit: Archant

Detectives have renewed an appeal for Essex residents to be on guard against telephone tricksters following a significant increase in incidents.

Latest figures for the whole county show that 63 people, mainly aged over 70, have been contacted by tricksters trying to get steal large sums of cash by claiming that they are police or bank officials.

Eight of the 63 people targeted fell for the tricksters’ claims and have lost a total of £39,600, including an elderly woman in Leigh who was tricked into handing over £24,000.

Det Insp Paul Maleary said: “The majority of people who receive these calls are aware of the extensive publicity warnings that we have put out about the scammers, but still a large number of people are being tricked.

“The thieves are also using new tactics which might account for the increase in crimes. They are still claiming to be police officers or bank officials and are still telling people that their bank accounts have been infiltrated by fraudsters.

“But now, instead of asking people for their bank details or asking to collect bank cards for forensic examination, they are asking their victims to actually draw out large sums of cash for forensic checks, for safe-keeping or so that they can help with an internal investigation into fraud at the bank.”

A total of 448 thefts and attempted thefts have been reported since the telephone scams first started in Essex in January.

Most Read

Although they were in the west of the county, around Loughton and Buckhurst Hill they have quickly spread to the south and more recently to areas in the north and north-east, including Harwich, Clacton and Sible Hedingham.

The south and west still continue to be the main targets for the thieves and since the start of the month 32 people, mainly in Southend, Leigh and Westcliff, have been called. All but one victim quickly ended the call and contacted police. But the elderly victim in Leigh was approached four times by the thieves and made four visits to her bank to withdraw £24,000.

Anyone with information about the thieves or anyone who has been approached by suspected fraudsters should contact the Operation Seaford investigation team on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.