Police issue warning as Harrogate residents fall victim to ‘courier fraud’ scam

North Yorkshire Police is warning residents to be extra vigilant after reports of ‘courier frauds’ in recent weeks where victims have been called on the telephone by someone claiming to be an officer from the Metropolitan Police in London.

Fraudsters are informing victims that someone has attempted to use their card to purchase a laptop or similar and, as a result, their bank accounts are under threat.

Victims are instructed to attend their bank and withdraw all their money for a police officer to attend their home address - the courier - who then takes their money for “safe keeping”.

The victim may be further convinced the call is genuine as the fraudsters will tell the victim to call 999 to check they are genuine.

North Yorkshire Police is warning residents to be extra vigilant after reports of ‘courier frauds’ in recent weeks

However, they do not clear the line so the victim, who thinks they have dialled 999 and are speaking to the police, is still speaking to the fraudsters.

The victim is told that they may be challenged at the bank as to why they are withdrawing their money and they are told what to say, for example paying for building work, buying a car, etc.

The fraudster will sometimes even claim the bank is involved in the crime and that there is an undercover police operation in the bank.

The victim is told not to say anything as it will compromise the police operation and they are led to believe that their cooperation is vital to the investigation.

Often, the victim is called by the fraudster prior to attending the bank and is told to keep their phone on whilst they are in the bank.

The victim withdraws their money, often tens of thousands of pounds, which they take home.

The fraudster, posing as a police officer, then attends the home and takes the money, often using a password agreed between the fraudster and the victim.

In 2021 alone, 3,625 people were victims of courier fraud in the United Kingdom, with loses totalling more than £15.2 million.

Andy Fox, North Yorkshire Police’s Financial Abuse Safeguarding Officer, said: “This is a sophisticated fraud perpetrated by experienced criminals who convince the victim their bank account is under threat and they need to act quickly to safeguard their money and to assist a police operation to catch criminals.

"To be clear, a police officer will never get in touch and advise you to withdraw, transfer or pay money and neither will a bank or a building society.

"If you receive a call out of the blue by someone claiming to be from the police asking you to withdraw or transfer your money, this is a scam and you must terminate the call immediately.

"If the person you are talking to ever asks you to lie to the bank or the police, it is a scam.

“If you suspect you’ve been scammed, report it to the police by calling 101 and we will be able to support you as well as protecting others from falling victim to the same fraudsters.”