A region-wide police operation has seen two alleged fraudsters arrested after police intercepted the suspected conmen en route to a victim’s home.
On Thursday afternoon, officers in Durham became aware that a vehicle thought to be involved in several courier fraud incidents in the region was in the Darlington area.
The intelligence came after a region-wide police operation, which involved officers from North East Regional Organised Crime Unit (NEROCU), Durham Constabulary and Northumbria Police.
Officers from NEROCU identified the suspect’s vehicle in the Darlington area and Durham traffic officers were immediately deployed and tracked the vehicle as it drove north towards Sedgefield.
A containment was put around the vehicle, causing it to stop, and two 30-year-old men were arrested at the scene.
The men were taken to police custody where they are currently being questioned by detectives.
The arrests come after a spate of courier fraud reports across the North East – with at least 24 incidents over recent weeks reported.
As part of the scam, known as courier fraud, fraudsters call people on the phone claiming to be police officers, often detectives, from police forces across the country.
The conmen then go on to tell the person to withdraw money from their bank account which will then be collected from their home by a courier.
The incidents have seen elderly residents targeted across Northumberland, Newcastle, Peterlee, Seaham and Durham.
NEROCU Detective Sergeant Gillian Coulson said: “This has been an outstanding piece of partnership working by NEROCU, Northumbria Police and Durham Constabulary. This is yet again another example of our commitment under Operation Sentinel to tackle Serious and Organised Crime as a united front in the North East.
“Remember these criminals are experts in manipulating people and copying the methods of communication used by banks, HMRC, the police and other reputable organisations to appear legitimate.
“They prey on people’s vulnerabilities and fears, exploiting this and profiting from it. The best thing people can do is assume any correspondence or cold-calls are fake.
“If you do find yourself a victim then please report it. You will never be judged and shouldn’t feel embarrassed. These criminals are master manipulators who use complex and well thought out tactics to trick people.”
Detective Inspector Phil Thoburn from Northumbria Police's Fraud team added: “We've seen a number of vulnerable and elderly people targeted in this way and we're working hard to ensure no one else falls victim to this type of scam.
“We've had engagement officers out in the community raising awareness and we'd ask that families speak to their loved ones about courier fraud.
"Please reassure them that the police or any other reputable organisation will never ask you to withdraw cash, nor will they ever ask you for your bank account details.
“They will also never ask you to confirm any personal details over the phone.
“If you’re unsure a call is genuine, please end the call and contact a family member or trusted individual.”
If you think you’ve been targeted by a fraudster, report it to us on 101, or Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.