Residents are reminded to be on guard against telephone fraudsters posing as police officers following recent offences reported in and around Tunbridge Wells.
On Thursday 14 March an 82-year-old man received a phone call from a man claiming to be an officer from Hammersmith Police station. He was told there had been fraudulent activity on his bank cards and that he needed to withdraw money from his accounts to safeguard his money and assist an investigation.
The victim was instructed not to tell his bank, which was also under suspicion, and to hand over the money to a courier who would attend his home address. A total of £4,500 is alleged to have been stolen.
On Monday 18 March Kent Police was alerted to a report of a further scam, also involving a man claiming to be calling from Hammersmith Police station.
On this occasion a couple in the 70s were targeted. They were given what the caller claimed was a crime number and instructed to withdrawn £10,000 which would be retrieved by ‘a police collection service’. The victims contacted Kent Police and officers attended an area where a collection of the money was believed to be taking place. No money was handed over and enquiries are ongoing to identify a suspicious vehicle seen to drive from the scene.
Tunbridge Wells Chief Inspector Pete Steenhuis said: ‘Sadly, there have been a number of recent incidents in the Tunbridge Wells area where elderly victims have been deliberately targeted and it is likely these crimes are being committed by the same offenders.
‘I would like to assure residents that we have dedicated fraud team working relentlessly to detect those who seek to target some of the most vulnerable people in our communities, but equally it is so important that people know how to spot the signs of a fraudulent phone call so their finances are not put at risk.
‘We are also continuing to urge friends, neighbours and family members to help us by sharing our advice to protect those who may be particularly at risk from these types of scams. Remember, that a police force will never ask a member of the public for their bank details, or money, over the phone. If you receive one of these calls end it immediately and wait at least five minutes before using your telephone in order to clear your line from the scammer. A police officer will also never ask any money, or other items, to be handed over to a courier.
• If you are not confident a person claiming to be a police officer is genuine, ask to take their details and then end the call.
• Wait for at least five minutes for the call to clear and then contact 101, or 999 in an emergency. A call handler will be able to verify whether your caller was genuine.
• Alternatively, contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. You can also report suspicious activity online by visiting: http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud
• The matter can also be reported to Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.