Arrest as police probe Horsham phone fraud


A man has been arrested in connection with a courier fraud which saw an elderly woman in Horsham conned out of £4,000, police said.

A 36-year-old man has been arrested in London on suspicion of fraud by false representation in Horsham, Sussex Police said yesterday (Tuesday March 3).

Police are investigating a fraud where a 64-year-old woman from Horsham had been tricked into believing her card had been used fraudulently in London and thought she checked with the police that the phone call was genuine. She handed £4,000 over to a man she thought was a courier for the police.

The man remains in custody in London.

Last week police revealed that a 90-year-old Horsham man had also been conned out of more than £1,500 in a phone and courier fraud.

Sussex Police revealed details of the crime as they reminded residents to remain vigilant after a number of people had been targeted across Crawley, Horsham and Mid Sussex.

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.

Police said the 90-year-old man was contacted by telephone at his home in 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Over the following week more than £1,500 was withdrawn from the account before the victim’s bank became suspicious and alerted police.

An 89-year-old woman 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.

12 people have been contacted in Horsham, Crawley, Turners Hill, Copthorne and Crawley Down in telephone and courier fraud, police said.

They added of these 12 people four had been conned out of thousands of pounds.

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 trick and did not give over any money.

Sgt 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 have any information about the scams or those involved, email 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.