Courier fraud is a sophisticated fraud where scammers telephone the victim purporting to be someone from their bank, the police or other law enforcement agency. They then dupe the person into revealing their PIN and handing over their credit or debit card to a courier or taxi driver, who may not know they are being used as part of the scam. The victim may be asked to ring the number on the back of their card, thereby further convincing the victim that the call is genuine, however the scammer keeps the line open so that the victim unknowingly talks to another member of the gang, posing as a bank employee.
More recently, fraudsters have pretended to be police officers, telephoning the victim and asking them to assist in a police investigation into a bank employee. The victim is requested to withdraw a large sum of cash from their bank and take it home, where it is then collected by a courier.
In the last year, the percentage of unsuccessful offences has increased to from 40% to 76% of all courier fraud calls reported to police. Officers believe this success is due to a combination of intensive efforts by Ofcom and the telecommunications industry to cut the amount of time taken to disconnect a call, and increased public awareness of the scam.
Despite these advances, police are warning people to be on their guard as criminals work ever harder to defraud their victims. 2,556 courier fraud offences were reported to the MPS between April 2013 and March 2014 and the crime continues to evolve. Variations of the crime include:
- being told there is a corrupt member of staff within the bank and asking for help in identifying them. The victim is told to withdraw a large sum of money which will be ‘marked’, with the purpose of it being placed back into the banking system. A taxi driver is sent round to collect the cash.
Officers are advising Londoners and particularly those who may be elderly or vulnerable to be aware of the following:
- Police and banks will never ask for your PIN or bank card
- Never give your PIN or bank card to anyone
- If you are contacted by someone who asks for these, hang up
- Use a different line to report the call to police on 101 or allow at least five minutes for the line to automatically clear
- Call 999 if the crime is in action.