Quick thinking by a taxi driver in Storrington prevented an elderly Pulborough man from losing 2,000 Euros in a courier scam.
The incident happened yesterday (Thursday March 5) when the driver from M and J Taxis in Storrington became suspicious after he was asked to deliver a parcel, which turned out to contain 2,000 euros.
We need to work together to keep vulnerable people safe
Realising it was part of a scam, he returned the money to the 77-year-old man from Pulborough who had given it to him and police were called.
Police are appealing for help from bank and taxi staff across the county to try to prevent vulnerable people being targeted by fraudsters.
There has been a rise in telephone and courier scams in which the victim receives a phone call from a person claiming to be from the police or the victim’s bank.
The offender tries to convince the victim that money has been taken from their accounts and that they should either contact 999 or their bank. They then stay on the line and ask the victim to withdraw cash from their banks or hand over their cards to a courier.
On Wednesday (March 4) members of staff at Barclays Bank in Uckfield, East Sussex, stopped a 78-year-old woman from withdrawing her savings.
The victim had been called at 12.40pm that day by a man claiming to be a police officer and saying that money from her account had been fraudulently handed over in London. She was advised to withdraw £6,000 from the bank and warned that because staff at the bank are usually in on the fraud, she should stay on her mobile to the offender while she went to the branch so that he could hear the transaction.
Luckily the clerk spotted her suspicious behaviour and, knowing the caller could hear the transaction, limited her withdrawal amount to £1,000. Once the withdrawal had been completed, the caller hung up and the clerk stopped the woman to make sure she was ok.
The member of staff suspected the woman had been conned so called police officers, who intervened.
On the same day staff at HSBC in Hove stopped an 82-year-old after he received a phone call at 2pm from a man claiming he was a police officer. The victim was asked to withdraw £10,000 and to again keep the caller on the line so the bank transaction could be heard.
He was told his car was going to be monitored by a plain clothed officer. After talking to staff in the bank the victim realised he was being scammed and the police were called.
Detective Inspector Rob Morland said: “Thankfully the taxi driver and several members of staff from banks have become suspicious about this sort of transaction and prevented victims handing over their money.
“The callers convince the victims that staff at their banks are in on the scam and that are helping police by taking the money out of their accounts.
“We need to work together to keep vulnerable people safe. Everyone can do their bit to try to prevent these offences happening.
“Please spread the word and look out for any suspicious activity - not all victims will keep their mobile phones with them in the bank but they may be acting nervously.
“Police officers or bank staff will never ask for your details over the phone and will not ask you take out money.
“If you have any suspicions about a phone call, please do not use the phone they have called you on to contact the police or the bank. If possible use another phone to report you concerns or contact a friend or relative.”
If you have any information about these incidents or think you have suspicions about a phone call you have received email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 101 quoting Operation Edisto or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.
For online advice on fraud prevention go to http://www.sussex.police.uk/help-centre/ask-us/fraud,-scams-and-financial-issues/what-can-i-do-to-prevent-fraud.