Sussex Police are issuing an urgent warning to residents, especially the elderly and anyone living alone, not to be taken in by a current wave of crime in which phone callers pose as police officers or bank staff asking for bank and card details.
Within a 36-hour period on Tuesday February 11 and Wednesday February 12 there were nine more cases in Sussex. In three money was obtained.
Late on Wednesday evening calls were made to two residents in Brighton.
A woman was defrauded of £600 cash, A similar call was made around the same time to a resident in Ovingdean, but they became suspicious and did not part with any information or money.
Meanwhile a woman living in Ringmer lost £,1350 to this scam on the same evening.
On Tuesday evening phone calls were made to six addresses in Brighton.
In five cases the residents became suspicious and did not part with anything but in the sixth case, in Hove, the thieves managed to obtain £2,500.
There has been a recent rise in this crime across the force area, and elsewhere in the country. In Sussex there have been 24 offences since last August, in which the fraudsters have got away with more than £150,000.
There was an upsurge in these incidents in December, when 55 incidents were reported although only in six cases was money obtained, and after a decrease in January there have so far been more than 30 such calls in February, with more than ten of them relating to cash being taken.
The fraudsters call the intended victim claiming to be from either the police or a bank. They tell them that their card details have been fraudulently used and that they need to act urgently to protect themselves. They suggest that they hang up and ring the bank or police back to ensure that the call is genuine.
Don’t be fooled - they stay on the line and pretend to be the police or the bank.
They then tell the intended victim to key in or read out their PIN number.
They will then send a taxi or courier, who may know nothing about the crime, to collect the bank card. With this and the PIN they will then have full access to spend your money.
Detective chief inspector Ali Eaton from the Surrey and Sussex Police Specialist Crime Command said: “Under no circumstances would the police or your bank request your PIN number over the telephone or arrange collection of your bank cards from your home address in this manner.
“Never give out your bank details to someone who has contacted you on your home phone unsolicited. If you have any suspicions please do not use the phone you have just been called on to contact the police or your bank. If possible use another phone to contact the police to report it, or to contact a friend to relative to alert them.
“I urge anyone reading or hearing this message to pass it on to any friends and relatives who may not be aware of this particular type of targeted fraud, to prevent any vulnerable friends or family members from becoming victims.
“It is good that many people are already heeding our advice, because although there have been 24 cases in which cash has been stolen, there have been a further 107 incidents in which the thieves achieved nothing.
“We want to encourage everyone to continue to resist these callers, so if you have any information, whether you have received similar calls or know someone who has been a victim of this crime, contact Sussex Police via 101 or email firstname.lastname@example.org quoting Operation Edisto. You can also call the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”
For online advice on fraud prevention visit Sussex Police’s website.