A quick-thinking taxi driver stopped an elderly woman handing over £20,000 in cash to scammers on Wednesday (December 11).
She had fallen for a devastating telephone fraud currently being used to con money out of elderly and vulnerable people.
Tuesday had seen four Bexhill residents targeted including another pensioner who lost £6,500 to a man who visited her home pretending to be a police officer. She gave him her card details and the money was taken out of her account.
Sussex Police responded immediately by issuing urgent warnings to residents and also informing taxi drivers in town that elderly residents were being conned in this way. It was because of this information that when a driver spotted the large amount of cash withdrawn by the victim he realised what was happening.
Inspector James Scott said: “We managed to intercept the lady who had drawn out this large amount of cash from the bank because the taxi driver phoned us. He saw all the cash she was carrying and phoned the police and prevented that lady becoming a victim - so that was a happy ending.”
Thieves are posing as police officers or bank officials to con people into revealing their bank account details or to hand over bank cards or large sums of money.
What’s mainly happened in Bexhill is that the caller claims to be from Hammersmith Police Station and says a person has been arrested who has a stolen debit card belonging to person who answers the phone, and asks for the security details on the back of the card.
They ask numerous questions such as mother’s maiden name and the amount in account, and says the bank is suspected of producing forged notes and they are trying to catch them out. They ask for money to be drawn out in order to see if the notes are forged.
The caller claims this is a highly secret operation and not to be spoken about.
It seems a taxi is then to be sent around to the address and the victim driven to the cashpoint and money then taken on to an arranged location.
This has happened around the country and so far around 80 people have fallen for the scam this year and around £275,000 has been stolen.
A Sussex Police spokesman warned: “This is obviously a scam and common sense must prevail - so please do not give out any details of your bank account to anyone over the phone.
“We have now had four reports of these calls reported today, so they are doing the rounds please be aware - if you receive one of these calls simply put the phone down.”
Investigations are being carried out by CID to trace the fraudsters, and Sussex Police believe them to be a ‘serious organised crime’ group working from London.
If you require any further information please call 101 or contact your local Police Community Support Officer via the Sussex Police website.