Warning over cases of courier fraud in Suffolk
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Fraudsters are targeting elderly and vulnerable people in Suffolk by pretending to be police officers or bank officials, it has been warned.
The crime, known as courier fraud, is on the rise nationally and there were 233 cases reported in the eastern region last year, with losses of more than £620,000, according to figures from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB).
Fraudsters typically cold call victims, purporting to be police officers or bank officials.
Examples include suggesting that some money has been removed from a victim's bank account and staff at their local branch are responsible.
Fraudsters also claim suspects have already been arrested but the 'police' need money for evidence.
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Some victims have also been told a business, such as a jewellers or currency exchange, is operating fraudulently and assistance is required to help secure evidence.
The victim is then asked to withdraw large sums of cash or instructed to buy expensive items.
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A 'courier' will then come to collect the cash or items on behalf of the 'police' or 'bank', often visiting the victim's home address.
According to Suffolk police, there were 15 reported cases or courier fraud in 2018, and three last year.
But DI Matt Bodmer, from Suffolk police, said the crime could be going under-reported.
"Nationally, there are concerns over the rise of cases and I think it's a reflection of society now that so much is done online," he said.
"It's something that could be under-reported in this county, sometimes out of sheer embarrassment that the victim has been conned.
"It's fair to say that elderly and vulnerable people are the most targeted, but we have had younger people also being deceived.
"The fraudsters are very convincing and it can be quite easy to be taken in."
DI Bodmer said he wants to raise awareness of the crime and is urging people to "be suspicious" about cold callers.
"The police or your bank will never call you to verify personal details or offer to pick up you card or cash by courier.
"Be suspicious. If you're not sure if someone is a police officer, then don't be afraid to check by calling 101.
"If it doesn't feel right, then check."
More information on courier fraud and advice can be seen here.