AN ELDERLY victim of telephone fraud from Stratford is calling for others not to fall into the same trap.
Pat – not her real name – spoke to The Observer to help an awareness campaign launched by Warwickshire Police in the wake of worrying rise in sophisticated phone scams targeting Warwickshire pensioners.
The 68 year-old had over £1,000 stolen from her account after scammers were able to obtain her bank details and PIN number – and even send a courier to her house, within minutes of her putting down the phone receiver, to collect her bank card which they then used to steal cash from her account at a nearby cash machine.
The crooks had called her landline and told her the card was being used illegally elsewhere – but of course this was all part of the ruse to get her to reveal her pin details.
She told the Observer: “It was an incredibly convincing call. I didn’t think twice about not trusting them. When you hear that your money is at risk you would probably do what I did and follow the instructions given to you. When you find out that you’ve been a victim of a very advanced and technical crime you realise how fast it all happened.
“I felt a bit daft afterwards, but it was all so hurried and obviously very well thought out. I just became helpless.
“After checking my accounts, I realised the money had been taken from cash machines in different cities obviously as part of a bigger crime ring. People need to be warned as I feel more and more people could fall victim to this fraud.”
Typically the scammers call landlines and pretend they are the police. They tell the victim their card has been used fraudulently – and prompt them to call their bank to cancel their card. Little do they know the number provided to them is also from the scammers themselves. Often the so-called courier will be waiting just round the corner ready to strike while the victim is still flustered.
In the past year there have been over 200 reported offences in Warwickshire with over £27,000 stolen from accounts.
Fortunately many people targeted have realised and refused to give any details.
Det Ch Insp Sean Paley said: “We are really aiming for Pat’s warning to be echoed around the county. We need more people to spread the word about this kind of crime as many people are unaware. Just alerting your elderly friends or relatives can help them from losing thousands and thousands of pounds.”
Police are advising all those who suspect they are on a fraudulent call to hang up immediately and call 101 from another phone. They also emphasise banks would never ask for account details or PIN numbers over the phone.
Police have also distributed leaflets to potentially vulnerable residents.
Visit www.warwickshire.police.uk for more information.