Scam of the month: Courier Fraud

June 3, 2024

Essex Police have issued a warning that Courier Fraud is on the increase in Essex.

This generally starts with a phone call from someone pretending to be the police or a bank official. To seem genuine, they may know some details about you such as your full name and address; these are often easily available.

They might also offer you a telephone number or ask you to call the number on your bank card to verify that they are genuine. If they offer you a number, it is not genuine. If you hang up and dial the number on your card, they will stay on the line and hand their phone to someone else to reassure you that they are genuine.

They then suggest something like:

Staff at a local bank have been stealing money from peoples' accounts

The suspects have been arrested but the police need money for evidence

A business such as a jewellers or currency exchange is operating fraudulently and they need assistance to secure evidence

You would then be asked to assist the investigation by withdrawing money from the bank, withdrawing money from a currency exchange, or purchasing an expensive item, all of which should be handed over to a courier who would, in fact, be part of the fraud operation.

They reassure their victims that they will be reimbursed but in fact, they are never seen again.

It can sound far-fetched, but this is real and plenty of people have been victims to this sort of fraud. Action Fraud report that £28.7 million was lost to Courier Fraud last year.

The alternate situation is that you get a call from someone claiming to be the bank or the police telling you that their systems have spotted a fraudulent payment on your card or that it needs to be replaced. They will use the same methods to convince you that they are genuine.

They will then ask you to read out your PIN or type it on the keypad. They might ask you for details of other accounts you hold.

They then send a ‘courier’ to collect your card. At this point they have your name, address, bank details, card and its PIN. They will then empty your bank account and probably commit identity fraud in your name.

To protect yourself:

Neither the banks nor the police will ever call you to verify your personal details by phone or offer to pick up your card by courier. Hang up if you get a call like this. If you need to call the bank to check, wait 5 minutes as fraudsters may stay on the line after you hang up. I would recommend using a different telephone line altogether

YOUR DEBIT OR CREDIT CARD IS YOURS: do not let a stranger take it off you. You should only ever have to hand it over at your bank. If it’s cancelled, you should destroy it yourself

If this happens to you:

Report it to your bank as soon as possible

Report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or using their online form


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