Torbay Council is urging elderly residents in Torbay to be on their guard and to beware of a phone fraud where victims are being duped out of cash by people posing as police.

Devon and Cornwall Police has recorded many of these offences across the force area this year with unsuspecting victims being defrauded of sums between £4,000 and £39,000.

The offenders are targeting older people, particularly in the Torbay and South Devon area, as part of a national scam which is commonly known as a ‘courier fraud’.

In many cases a person claiming to be a police officer from the Metropolitan Police will contact an elderly or vulnerable victim by telephone and inform them that their bank card has been used fraudulently.

The name DC Adams from Hammersmith police station is commonly given. The victim will then be tricked into thinking they are being put through to their bank. The victim will then disclose banking information and will be instructed to attend the local branch of their bank to withdraw a sum of money and pass it to either a local taxi firm or to a courier sent by fraudsters.

Often elderly victims are unwittingly defrauded of their entire life savings, being left distraught and traumatised in many cases.

Torbay Council's Executive Lead for Adult Social Care and Older people, Councillor Christine Scouler, said: "This is a mean and heartless crime and is particularly unpleasant because it targets elderly and vulnerable people. This kind of scam can bring heart breaking consequences – it can destroy lives at a time when those targeted should be enjoying life after working hard. Victims can lose their entire life savings or incur large debts, which can lead to depression and massively affect their quality of life.

"I would urge people to be on their guard and not to hand over any money or share personal details if they receive a call like this. Everyone has a responsibility to look out for those in the community who could be more susceptible to being scammed in this way. If you think that a friend, relative or neighbour may be a victim, please contact the police immediately.”

Detectives are working with local banks/buildings societies and taxi firms as part of the investigation into the fraud and are urging anyone else who may have been a victim to come forward.

Detective Superintendent Ken Lamont said: “This is a national problem which has reached Devon and Cornwall. The extent of these offences is still to be fully ascertained, but they are across the Force, being most prevalent in Torbay and the South Devon areas.

“This is a heartless and callous fraud with the offenders targeting elderly and vulnerable people who are trusting and willing to help who they think are bona fide police officers.

“We are urging the public, particularly older people, to be aware of this fraud and not to go along with it. Genuine police would not phone members of the public in this way and certainly would never ask you for your bank details or ask you to send money.

“Because of the nature of the fraud and the vulnerable victims involved it is believed this offence is currently under-reported, therefore we would urge the public to come forward and tell us if they have been contacted by these people.

“We appeal to members of the public, banks and taxi drivers to be on their guard and report any suspicious activity of this nature to the police immediately.”

If you receive a phone call of this nature, police advise you to:

  • End the phone call immediately. Wait at least five minutes to clear the line from the scammer before making any other calls, or use another phone.
  • Report the offence as soon as possible to police by telephoning 101.

Please remember:

  • Your bank will never attend your home.
  • Your bank and the police will never collect your bank card or cash
  • Your bank and the police will never ask for your PIN.

Anyone with any information about this fraud can contact police on 101, quoting Op Fardel crime reference JN/14/932.







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