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Trust your instincts say police after telephone fraudsters target Worcester and Bromyard

Police are urging the public to trust their instincts after telephone fraudsters claiming to be from the police attempt to scam residents in the Worcester and Bromyard areas.

The first incident (0582s of 1 May 2018) was reported to West Mercia Police at 17.35 hours on Tuesday 1 May when a couple in Bromyard received a phone call from a woman who said her name was Natalie Gibson and she was a police officer based at Worcester. She gave the couple a long reference number for the case and told them to call 999 and speak to Sgt Anthony Taylor from Hammersmith Police. In retrospect the resident believes the fraudsters did not clear the line and when he dialled 999, Anthony Taylor was the one who answered. He said there was a problem with their bank account and someone had been arrested in London with a cloned card. He asked them to go to the Hereford branch of their bank and withdraw over £10k. He told them to keep the line open on their phone the whole time so he could monitor things which they did. He told them the bank was under observation and not to tell the bank why they wanted the money. He told them not to speak to any police if they saw any. The couple went to the bank but they refused the amount they asked for and let them take out a smaller amount. When they told the fraudster Sgt Taylor this, he said they should now go to the Malvern branch to get the rest of the money. Again the resident kept the line open as the fraudster had asked. Again the bank only allowed them to withdraw a lesser amount. When the couple got home the line had cleared but was ringing and they began to feel something was wrong. The couple very sensibly decided to go and stay with some neighbours and used a different phone to seek advice from West Mercia Police who confirmed it was a scam. The money has since been redeposited and no money was stolen.

DI Emma Wright, head of West Mercia Police Economic Crime Unit, said "Don't trust anyone who calls you about your bank details. Always hang up and wait 10 minutes to ensure the call has disconnected before making another call. If you want to check they are legitimate, find their number via directory enquiries and call them back. Use a different telephone to make sure the line is clear. If they are genuine, you should be able to get through to them. You can also check what they are saying is true with your bank."

In a second incident (0405s of 1 May 2018) reported at 14.10 hours on Tuesday 1 May 2018, a woman also sought the help of a neighbour after receiving a call from fraudsters. The call was from a man claiming to be a Sgt from Hammersmith Police Station stating he believed her cards had been cloned. He told her to call 999 so she could check he was genuine. She did the right thing and went to her neighbours and used their phone to call the police who told her it was a scam. When the woman went back to her home phone there was no dial tone even when she replaced the handset a few times, indicating the fraudsters were still connected. No money was stolen.

DI Wright said "The scams are very elaborate and very convincing and cruel. If you think someone is trying to scam you, tell someone straight away. Don't be pressured. Give yourself time to stop and think. Please remember the police will never contact you asking for your bank card or cash. If someone does, it's a scam - provide no details and hand nothing over, hang up and report it immediately to Action Fraud at www.actionfraud.police.uk or 0300 123 2040."

DI Wright said "We are doing a lot to tackle these scams including working with other agencies including an increasing number of bank staff who are trained to spot the signs of a scam and raise the alarm (see www.westmercia.police.uk/article/41676/Police-banks-and-Trading-Standards-unite-in-Warwickshire-and-West-Mercia-stopping-over-167000-of-fraud).

We are asking the public to talk to people, particularly elderly relatives or neighbours and to tell them about these cases and ask them not to trust anyone who asks them for their bank details.

Officers are offering the following advice to help people avoid falling victim to telephone fraud:

No legitimate bank, building society, police officer, or business will ever phone you to ask you to give them your card, your PIN, or your cash.

If you get a phone call like the ones we've described, hang up - do not provide any personal details or hand anything over. Then report it to Action Fraud atwww.actionfraud.police.uk or 0300 123 2040.

If the crime is still in progress, because for example, you have recently provided bank details or handed over cards or cash, or the caller has arranged for someone to visit your address to collect items, then you should call the police to report this on 101. In an emergency dial 999.

If you need some support from your bank or building society, go to your local branch or phone them on the correct number (not one a mystery caller gives you, as this is likely to be part of the scam).

Trust your instincts: apply the same logic you would in the real world if a stranger with an unusual (or dodgy) story asked for your money or your private information.

Published 03/05/18