Sussex Police are reminding residents to remain vigilant after a number of people have been targeted across Horsham and Mid Sussex over the past week.
The police say that 12 people have been contacted in Horsham, Turners Hill, Copthorne and Crawley Down, as well as Crawley, in telephone and courier fraud.
If you have elderly or vulnerable friends or neighbours please make them aware of this scam
Eight people were either aware of the scam or made contact with someone who alerted them to the fact it was a scam.
However four people have been conned out of thousands of pounds.
All the scams are similar with people phoning claiming to be from the police and convincing the victims money has been taken from their bank accounts. They then ask the victim to contact the bank but stay on the line and ask them to withdraw cash from their banks or hand over their cards to a courier.
A police statement adds that a 90-year-old man was contacted by telephone at his home in West Street Horsham on Tuesday, February 17. The caller arranged for the elderly man’s bank card, along with his card PIN, to be collected later that same day. Over the following week over £1,500 was withdrawn from the account before the victim’s bank became suspicious and alerted police.
On Friday, February 20, a 70-year-old man from Hill House Close in Turners Hill s contacted to say his card had been used in London. The suspects stayed on the line and convinced the man they were from the police and his bank. In total the man handed over almost £50,000 in pounds, foreign currency and goods.
An 89-year-old woman from The Poplars in Horsham also handed over bank cards, £100 cash and jewellery to a man claiming to be a police officer. Fraudsters claimed that they had detained her grandson after he was found in possession of her bank details and that they could safeguard her valuables while they investigated.
Six other calls were made on February 26, three in Copthorne, one in Crawley Down, one in Crawley and one in Horsham, and two scams were also tried in Copthorne on February 19 and 20 but all these people suspected it was a scam and did not give over any money.
Sergeant Graeme Prentice 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. Never give out your bank details or hand over your bank cards to someone who has contacted you in this way.
“If you have any suspicions, please do not use the phone you have just been called on to contact the police or your bank, in case the offenders are still on the line.
“If possible use another phone to contact the police to report it, contact a friend or relative to alert them or wait for at least half-an-hour before trying to ring.
“If you have elderly or vulnerable friends or neighbours please make them aware of this scam as well so that they do not become a victim.
“The offenders are preying on the vulnerability of people to steal hundreds or sometimes thousands of pounds from them and we are determined to catch those responsible.”
If you know anything about the scams or those involved, email firstname.lastname@example.org quoting Operation Edisto, call 101 or contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.
Copies of the Little book of Big scams are available on the Sussex Police website or by contacting your Local Neighbourhood Police Teams.