An elderly woman was saved from handing over £45,000 to fraudsters thanks to vigilant Kent Police officers.
At around 2pm on Tuesday 23 November 2021, it was reported that a woman in her 80s had received a phone call from a person claiming to be a police officer based in Hammersmith.
The fraudster then asked her to buy a luxury watch, which would be collected from her home in Marden by a courier. They also instructed her to say the watch was intended as a gift for a relative.
Upon learning of the report, a patrol from the Maidstone Local Policing Team attended the victim’s address to check on her wellbeing.
While at the property, they noticed her phone was continually ringing and answered it. On the other line was the suspected fraudster, who attempted to say the purpose of their call was legitimate before hanging up.
No money, or goods, have been transferred however suitable safeguarding measures have been put in place to ensure she does not fall victim to this type of crime.
Enquiries to identify the suspects are ongoing.
Detective Sergeant Alec Wood, from Kent Police’s Volume Fraud Team, said: ‘Sadly, we know that fraudsters will target the elderly and other people who they think are vulnerable.
‘In response, we have a dedicated policing plan in place to ensure victims are protected before any money is handed over.
‘We’ve also worked closely with banks, to help their staff recognise the signs of fraud, and our engagement officers regularly share advice with communities who are at risk of being targeted.
‘This incident is, however, a timely opportunity to remind people that no police officer will ever instruct you to purchase items to aid an investigation, nor will they ask for your bank details or seek to collect money from you. They will also not ask you to say something that you know to be untrue.
‘If you receive a call of this nature, end it immediately and report it via our website, or the Action Fraud website. You can also call us on 101, or Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. Always dial 999 in an emergency
‘A swift report can help us intervene before serious harm is caused, as shown by this outcome.’
- Never hand over any money, or other items, to a courier after receiving this type of call.
- If you are not confident a person claiming to be a police officer is genuine, ask to take their details and then end the call.
- If making a report over the telephone, wait five minutes for the line to clear as fraudsters have in the past kept a line open. A police call handler will be able to verify whether your caller was genuine. If possible, call from a different handset on a different phone line.
- The matter can also be reported to Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111 or by using their online form.