Fraudsters steal more than £55,000 from victims across Harrogate

North Yorkshire Police has issued a warning to residents and businesses across the county following a series of high-value courier frauds in Harrogate.

Friday, 29th May 2020, 9:35 am
Updated Friday, 29th May 2020, 9:36 am
North Yorkshire Police are warning residents about fraud schemes across the county.

It comes after three separate incidents of ‘courier fraud’ occurred across the town - where a victim receives a phone call from someone claiming to be from the police or their bank’s fraud team.

They usually tell the victim they are investigating the bank due allegations of theft from customers.

They then instruct them to withdraw money and hand it over to a courier to be used in evidence against the bank.

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Two suspects targeted a 65-year-old woman between March 31 and May 14.

One man claimed he was working for the VISA fraud team and she was passed through to another man who pretended to be a police office.

Over the coming days and weeks, the victim was persuaded to withdraw her money from the bank and to buy gold as a safer investment. When the gold arrived at the woman’s address, she agreed for it to be collected by a courier to be put into safe storage. She lost £50,000 in total.

Between March 26 and March 30, a 60-year-old man was also conned out of £5,000. He refused to travel to London to hand the money over in person, but he agreed to pass it to a courier.

And on March 30 an 80-year-old woman almost lost £6,500 in the same way. Thankfully, the victim became suspicious after speaking to and receiving fraud advice from her bank. The suspect did not re-contact her.

Detective Constable Neil Brodhurst, a Fraud Investigator, said: “Courier fraud is clearly a despicable and malicious crime which preys upon vulnerable people who are genuinely frightened that their life savings are at risk.

“It is vitally important for residents to know that the police or a bank would never contact people in this way. They would also never ask for highly personal information such as PINs and bank account numbers over the phone.

“If you or someone you know receives such a call out of the blue, the best advice is to end the call straight away and report it to the police and the bank for investigation.”

DC Brodhurst added: “While the investigations into the three incidents in Harrogate are ongoing, we are urging other potential victims of courier fraud from across North Yorkshire and York to come forward without delay.

“Please do not feel foolish in any way. We are here to help and support victims and we will do everything in our power to bring suspects to justice.”

Victims or anyone with information that could assist the investigations are asked to call North Yorkshire Police on 101, select option 1, and speak to the Force Control Room. Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

Quote reference number 12200087225 and say it is for the attention of DC Neil Brodhurst when providing information.