Forces across the country are ramping up their response to tackle cruel fraudsters who deliberately target the elderly.
This month (January) Northumbria Police is lending its support to a national initiative which seeks to clampdown on a despicable scam known as Courier Fraud.
As part of the complex con the vulnerable and the elderly are targeted by scammers who claim to be from the police. Victims are tricked into believing they have already fallen foul of a scam and are coerced into sending money, bank cards and other valuable ‘evidence’ to the fraudsters via a courier who turns up on their doorstep.
By the time victims realise they have been duped, it is often too late for them to get their money back. Others are often too embarrassed to admit they were taken in by the sophisticated scam.
Detective Sergeant Paddy O’Keefe from the North East Regional Special Operations Unit (NERSOU) is the Regional Development Officer for fraud and is calling on families to help educate their loved ones about the cruel sting.
He said: “Across the country, thousands of vulnerable and elderly people are being targeted by these greedy criminals who are trying to get rich quick using the most despicable tactics.
“This is a cruel scam which abuses the trust people have in the police and robs victims of their self-confidence. We know of cases where some people had been so ashamed of what happened they didn’t even tell their relatives they had been the victims of fraud. We also know of cases where people are repeatedly contacted and harassed by these shameless offenders.
“These criminals are brazen and we need to make sure that our elderly people feel empowered to challenge anyone who cold-calls them. Please help us spread the message that no police force would ever ask anyone to withdraw cash, or send us any items via a courier. Anyone who asks you to do this is trying to defraud you of your hard-earned cash.
“This may seem an elaborate fraud, but these criminals are constantly evolving and adding levels of sophistication to this criminality.
“We are fighting hard to eradicate this type of organised crime from our streets and to make sure that perpetrators are brought to justice under the banner of Operation Sentinel.”
Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness added: “It’s important that we do what we can to increase the resilience of those in our communities who are most vulnerable and are being targeted by these shameless fraudsters.
“Please share this information with elderly and vulnerable friends and family so they can be vigilant. Reassure them that there is no shame or embarrassment in being a victim but it’s incredibly important that our officers know about it so they can provide support and catch those responsible for these despicable crimes.”