Conned Taunton women warns others on fraud

Sylvia (not her real name) is in her 80s and lives in Taunton. She has had plenty of scam calls from fraudsters and can usually spot them.

Courier fraud has been around for a long while. However the complexity of the way it operates is growing. The stories used to defraud people are getting more elaborate.

This is how Sylvia got caught out. Now she wants her story to serve as a warning for others.

The scam

She received an unexpected call from a fraudster who claimed to be a detective in London. He told her they had someone in custody called Lucy. She claimed to be a relative and carer of Sylvia. Sylvia confirmed this was untrue.

The “detective” explained Lucy had been arrested for possession of stolen jewellery and gold. He said Lucy had withdrawn £500 from Sylvia’s account, but then put it back in. This he claimed aroused suspicions of the Police.

Sylvia was then asked to help the police out by withdrawing £4,000 from her bank.

Now Sylvia suspected it was a scam. The phoney detective told her to call the number on the back of her bank card to check it was legitimate. Unfortunately Sylvia used the same phone. The fraudster did not hang up the previous call thereby keeping the line open. So when she tried to call the bank, she ended up speaking to the same fraudster.

The phoney detective phoned back. He convinced Sylvia to go to her local bank and withdraw the money. Also to lie to the cashier as to why she needed the money.

Sylvia took the £4,000 back to her home. The fake detective asked her to read out the serial numbers of the bank notes. He then told her that these were counterfeit notes, which confirmed Lucy’s guilt.

That meant the cash was needed as evidence in court.

The fake detective her a password that a courier would give when picking up the money.

Within 20 minutes the courier arrived and took the cash, plus a further sum from her pension account. This the fake detective said would also be of use to their investigation.

Sylvia was just left with a falsified receipt so she could be reimbursed, but as it was a scam she was left empty handed.

Sylvia lost a total of £8,000.

Fraud protect officer Amy Horrobin said: “Sylvia has been left feeling rather shaken, frustrated with herself and not knowing who she can trust. She has received support from officers and advice from fraud protect officers, because often victims are vulnerable to being targeted again by fraudsters.”

Sylvia is not alone. In 2022, 60 victims of courier fraud in Avon and Somerset reported losses of £278,936. Many others are not reported.

The Police advise people to look out for these signs of scam calls. They say:

To stay safe and protect yourself, remember:

• Your bank or the police will never call and ask you to verify your personal details or PIN. If you get a call asking you to do this, hang up, wait a few minutes and call your bank on a number you know to be genuine, such as the one on the back of your card.

• Your bank or the police will never send a courier to your home to collect your cash, bank cards, PINs, or any other valuable goods. Any requests to do so are part of a scam.

• The police will not contact you out of the blue and ask you to participate in an investigation that requires you to withdraw money from your bank, or to purchase high value goods, such as jewellery or gold.

Leave a Reply