Warning over new phone scam after pensioner handed over £10,000 to a scammer pretending to be police officer
- Elderly man conned out of £10,000 by scammer impersonating a police officer
- Another woman in her 70s nearly parted with cash but she was stopped in time
- Devon Police are urging people to be vigilant after rise in new phone scam
- Comes after experts warned ‘Hi Mum, Hi Dad’ scam has evolved to new channels
- Have you received a phone call or text message from someone you believe may be a scammer? Get in touch: [email protected]
People are being urged to be vigilant after an elderly man was duped into handing over £10,000 to a scammer impersonating a police officer.
Devon police say there has been an increase in the number of calls about a man pretending to be a police officer and demanding cash be handed over.
Police say the South Devon and Tiverton areas are being targeted, with a woman in her 70s drawing up a ‘substantial amount’ of money, however the police managed to intervene in time.
Detective Inspector Jo Devonshire said: ‘We are advising anyone who receives such a call not to give any personal information and hang up immediately.
‘This type of call can be linked to courier fraud, where victims will be encouraged to withdraw funds from their bank account or give bank cards to a courier, arranged by the ‘police officer’ making the call under the guise of ‘assisting with a police investigation’.
Stock image of a man with his credit card while on the landline phone
‘We will never contact people to ask for banking information or request that they withdraw money from an account to aid an investigation.’
Det Insp Devonshire added: ‘Fraudsters often target geographical areas where they know elderly or vulnerable people live, so we are asking that if you have family or friends who are vulnerable in any way, that you make them aware of this scam.’
It comes amid a rise in cons in recent months, with one particularly cunning scam targeting unsuspecting people through WhatsApp.
The ‘Hi Mum, Hi Dad’ scam as its known works by messaging a person with this message and convincing them they are their so or daughter.
The scammer will then go on to claim there is a problem and ask them for money.
One fraud expert warned that the scammers behind this have begun targeting victims through new channels, such as ‘traditional’ SMS and text messages.
The con artists usually start scam by messaging a person ‘Hi Mum’ or ‘Hi Dad’. They convince them they are their son or daughter and the ask them for money. Pictured above is an example from Toni Parker, 53, who lost £2,450 to the scam
Toni Parker, 53, (pictured with husband Douglas) lost £2,450 to a scammer who claimed they were her son, who was serving in the RAF. She was saving money to buy a new boiler
Such scams have appeared on WhatsApp in recent months, with 1,235 reports made to Action Fraud between February 3 and June 21, tricking Brits into handing over £1.5million in just six months.
It comes after a 53-year-old nurse Toni Parker lost £2,450 when a scammer impersonated her son, claiming he had dropped his phone down the toilet and needed money.
Meanwhile, 66-year-old pensioner Angela Briscoe revealed last month that she lost nearly £10,000 to the scam and was only able to recover half of it through the bank.
Sky Sports commentator Jacqui Oatley has also been vocal in warning people about the scams after she revealed her mother was targeted along with thousands of parents who were conned into believing their children were in trouble.
Sky Sports commentator Jacqui Oatley (pictured) has been vocal in trying to warn people from WhatsApp scammers
Ms Oatley shared images of the messages on Twitter, warning fans: ‘I’m keen to warn you about a scam which my lovely, kind mum so nearly fell for. It was incredibly believable.
‘Someone pretends to be you but on a different number, contacts someone close to you and asks them to quickly pay a bill for you before you pay them back.’
However, while these scams have in the past traditionally begun on WhatsApp, according to Chris Ainsley, head of fraud risk management at Santander UK, they are now also appearing in other messaging forms.
‘We saw a significant spate in fake WhatsApp messages pretending to be from people’s children,’ he said.
‘That’s still ongoing. It’s picked up again in the last month where we’re not just seeing it through WhatsApp but on ‘traditional’ SMS or text messages.’
What should you do if you think you may be a target of a scam?
If you think you may be being targeted, police are advising you to terminate the call, wait five minutes and ensure you can hear a dial tone before calling 101.
Then call your bank using the number found on the back of your card.
Police also say all reports of this nature should be reported to Action Fraud 0300 123 2040 or online at actionfraud.police.uk