The Metropolitan Police raided eight addresses in Croydon early this morning and an address in Sutton in connection with an investigation into courier frauds that occurred in the borough and surrounding areas this year.
Five men and one women, all aged between 19 and 24 have been arrested since September 10 on suspicion of conspiracy to commit fraud. They currently remain in custody at a south London police station. Mobile phones, cash and various electrical items were also seized in the raids.
The fraud works by the suspect telephoning the victim and claiming to be someone from an authority – such as the police, bank or Serious Fraud Office. They tell them that their bank account has been compromised and their card must be collected.
The suspect then instructs the victim to hang up and call the authority mentioned on a genuine number to validate the call. This is the most convincing part.
The victim dials the new number but the fraudster does not disconnect so, unknown to the victim, they are still speaking to the suspect or a co-conspirator.
The fraudster then convinces the victim to reveal their PIN, with the suspect being able to tell which keys were pressed. They then instruct the victim to put their bank card in an envelope and send ‘an accomplice purporting to be a courier’ to the victim’s house to collect it.
The cards are then either delivered to another suspect or used immediately to purchase items at stores or obtain cash from ATM machines. On some occasions victims have been driven to a bank and instructed to empty their bank account.
In one recent case in Croydon, a family were conned into giving away £14,000 of jewellery and £2,000 cash to courier fraudsters who had used this method to convince the victims that they were police officers.
In another case an elderly male victim was driven to his bank over two days and deceived into withdrawing £15,000 of his life savings and handing it over to a ‘courier’.
Detective Inspector Simon Harding, from Croydon CID, who is leading the investigations into these frauds said:
“It is absolutely vital that people make their elderly and vulnerable family, friends and neighbours aware of this scam and that under no circumstances should they ever give their PIN or their bank cards to anybody. Banks do not recall cards in this way and neither do police.
“If you are in any doubt at all your bank card may be targeted for fraud, the best thing is to simply cut it up and inform your bank, who will despatch a new one to you.”
Local officers in Croydon are also visiting banks and taxi and mini-cab firms to issue them with crime prevention posters that they can display to warn their customers. Taxi firms are also being encouraged to not unwittingly help fraudsters by accepting these kinds of fares and to contact police if they suspect fraudsters are using their firm to commit these crimes.
The Metropolitan Police Service has produced a ‘Little Book of Big Scams’ full of information about the latest frauds and cons and the best ways of avoiding them. This can be downloaded on the Met police website here.