Phone Fraud in Chard area

I’m afraid another ugly fraud is raising its head in Somerset. To date the victims have all come from the Chard area. It is not a new fraud, but a rehash of one that has been doing the rounds for several years.

It goes roughly like this: the victims receive calls from scammers posing as police officers from London. They claim the victims’ money was at risk due to the behaviour of a rogue bank employee. They ask the victim to make a substantial withdrawal from their bank, but not tell staff why they wanted to take out such a large amount of cash. The victims are asked to withdraw funds and then the money is to be left to be picked up by a courier.

None of this is genuine. Bank branches regular advise customers to be wary of this type of scam. All the victims targeted are older people, often in their 70s and 80s. Although all the incidents reported to date have been in and around Chard, Police are warning residents across Somerset to be wary.

In the recent spate of incidents, two of the victims hung up on the call and reported the matter to the police. In two other cases the victims attended their local bank. However the bank staff felt the circumstances were suspicious and informed Avon and Somerset Police.

Nevertheless one case was successful for the criminals and the victim withdrew £13,000. The money was collected by a courier. He was described as being male, white, 5ft 10ins to 6ft, with messy hair – dirty blond to grey hair in colour – dark trousers, dark grey top, logo on the right side and of medium build, with no discernible accent.

Avon & Somerset Police have issued advice to deal with this kind of fraud. Neither the police nor the banks will ask you for banking details or PIN numbers on the phone. Similarly, they would never send a courier to collect bank cards or money.

Their message is – don’t discuss your finances with anyone who calls you out of the blue, even if they claim to be a police officer or a representative from a bank fraud department.

Genuine callers will be happy for you to make an appointment to visit them at a bank branch or police station. They will never ask you to withdraw cash on their behalf; arrange for cash to be collected by a courier; ask for details about your bank card; or ask for the PIN on your card. 

If you know someone who may be vulnerable to this type of offence, please speak to them and share these crime prevention tips and remind them of the threat from telephone fraudsters. 

People who receive a call on their landline and are asked to contact their local police station or bank to verify the caller’s details ideally need to put the receiver down and not touch it for five minutes, just in case the fraudster has kept the line open. Ensure you have a dialling tone before re-using. Ideally use another phone such as a mobile phone or a neighbour’s phone and use 101 to verify the call. 

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