Police are warning residents to be vigilant about phone scams that are being run across Hertfordshire.
Since the beginning of March there have been 104 reported incidents of phone scams in the county so far. Six of these incidents resulted in the victims giving personal information and their bank cards over to criminals. Three incidents resulted in the victims giving money to criminals and another saw a victim handing over cash, jewellery and bank cards.
Seven incidents were recorded in St Albans. In one a man in his late 80s was targeted as part of a scam.
He was told by someone claiming to be a fraud investigator that he needed to withdraw a sum of money for an investigation. The victim did this and the money was later collected by a courier.
There was one incident in Harpenden where the thief claimed to be a police officer investigating fraudulent activity but this was recognised as a scam and the call was ended.
There were two incidents in London Colney. In one incident a 70-year-old man was targeted by criminals who claimed to be from the victim’s bank. The thieves managed to obtain PIN numbers from the victim and then later collected his bank cards through a courier.
Detective Inspector Jason Keane, from Hertfordshire Constabulary, said: “Although these numbers seem very high, this may be caused by increasing numbers of people reporting incidents as more people become aware of the scam and they are alerting us when they are being targeted.
“We are continuing our robust approach in dealing with those who participate in phone scams, particularly when they target the vulnerable and elderly members of our community. Arrests are continuing to be made in connection with these types of scams, but people still need to be aware.”
She continued that residents should remember the police and banks would never ask anyone over the phone to:
• Reveal their bank accounts details, including their PIN numbers
• Withdraw cash
• Hand over any possessions, including cash or bank cards, to a stranger or courier
Detective Inspector Daniel Lawrence, from the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU), said: “An ERSOU task force has now been set up to investigate this type of fraud and we have resources from across Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk who will be targeting those who are the most vulnerable.
“Our aim is simple; we will identify, disrupt and dismantle organised crime groups across the eastern region making it a hostile place for organised crime to operate. To do this, we do need the public’s help.
“Anyone who receives calls that appear to be suspicious should contact the police via the non-emergency number 101. Please remember to use a mobile phone or wait until you hear the dialling tone before calling us as the other caller may not have cleared the line. I would urge people to contact us and not be embarrassed by what has happened.
“Offenders do appear to be targeting the vulnerable and elderly, so please share this information and advice with your elderly relatives and neighbours so they are aware.”