In response to reports that people in Kent were being targeted, with two individuals thought to have lost around £30,000 each, a multi-force investigation was launched across Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Northumbria, Oxfordshire, Surrey, and Scotland.

On Wednesday (8 February), the pre-planned operation led by the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU) alongside colleagues from City of London Police, Kent Police, Yorkshire and Humber Regional Organised Crime Unit, and the Metropolitan Police Service resulted in two men aged 24 and another aged 23 being arrested.

Detectives seized around £5,000 in cash, alongside digital devices and sim cards which were taken for further examination.

Courier fraud

Courier fraud typically involves a victim receiving a phone call from someone purporting to be from a bank, or in some cases the police. The caller often says their systems have spotted fraudulent activity on a bank account and looks to convince the victim that the money should be withdrawn and handed over, to prevent it being at risk.

Once the victim has withdrawn the cash the offenders then send an associate to collect it with a guarantee that it’s reimbursed once the ‘investigation’ is complete, however this is never the case.

Detective Inspector Mhairi Shurmer, from ERSOU’s Regional Organised Crime Unit, said: “Courier fraud has a significant impact on victims, with some losing vast sums of cash. We’re committed to apprehending those behind this abhorrent activity.

“Offenders typically target elderly or vulnerable people and purport to be from a trusted institution, creating an illusion that they are trying to help protect their money. Instead, they themselves are the criminals looking to steal it.

“I would urge the public to be vigilant to this type of criminality. Police or your bank will not contact you to withdraw money from your account or to purchase high value goods for safe keeping.

“If you think a phone call could be a scam, hang up, wait a few minutes and call them on a number you know to be genuine, such as the one on the back of your bank card.”

All three men were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit fraud and were subsequently bailed pending further enquiries.

For more information on courier fraud, and tips on how to spot it, visit www.takefive-stopfraud.org.uk.

Report fraud to Action Fraud online at www.actionfraud.police.uk or by phone on 0300 123 2040. If a crime is in action, always phone 999.

By Ed

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