North Yorkshire Police is warning local communities to be extra vigilant after a number of reports over the last week where a victim has received a phone call from an individual posing as a Metropolitan Police officer.

The victim is informed that someone has attempted to use their card to purchase a laptop or similar and as a result their bank account is under threat. The victim is then instructed to attend their bank and withdraw all their money in order for a police officer to attend their home address (the courier) who will take their money for ‘safekeeping’.

These fraudsters will often suggest the victim calls 999 to check the call is genuine but will not clear the phone line and so the victim thinks they have dialled 999 and that they are talking to the police control room, when in fact they are still speaking to the fraudster.

The victim will be urged to attend the bank to withdraw their money and told it is likely the bank will challenge them upon doing so. As such, they will be given a ‘script’ to explain the money is for a new car or building work, with the fraudster claiming the bank is involved in the threat to the victim’s money and that the ‘police operation’ to help them is undercover.

The victim is made to think that their cooperation is needed for this police operation and that they must lie so that they don’t compromise it.

The fraudster may call their victim prior to visiting the bank and tell them to keep the call open whilst in the bank as they withdraw their money which often amounts to tens of thousands of pounds. Once the victim returns home with the cash, the fraudster posing as a police officer will attend their home and collect the money, potentially using a password agreed between the victim and the fraudster.

Detective Inspector Jon Hodgeon Head of North Yorkshire Police’s Economic Crime Unit explains:

“This is a sophisticated fraud perpetrated by experienced criminals who convince the victim their bank account is under threat and they need to act quickly to safeguard their money and to assist a police operation to catch criminals.

“Although it is a fairly common type of fraud, we’ve heard a number of reports over the last week here in North Yorkshire so I’d urge everyone to be vigilant and make sure you know what to do in case you receive one of these calls.

“A police officer will NEVER get in touch and advise you to withdraw, transfer or pay money and neither will a bank or building society. If you receive a call out of the blue by someone claiming to be from the police asking you to withdraw or transfer your money, this is a scam and you must terminate the call immediately.

“If the person you are talking to ever asks you to lie to the bank or the police, you can be pretty sure it is a scam and again, you should hang up immediately.

“If you suspect you’ve been scammed, report it to the police by calling 101 and we will be able to support you as well as protecting others from falling victim to the same fraudsters.”