Sussex Police Warns of Danger of Courier Fraud

The Local Police are putting out several warnings about Courier Fraud
What is courier fraud?

Criminals typically carry out courier fraud by cold calling the victim, purporting to be a police officer or bank official to gain their trust. The fraudsters will then claim there’s an issue with the victim’s bank account or request their assistance with an ongoing bank or police investigation.

The ultimate aim of this call is to trick them into handing over money or their bank details. 

Common techniques include telling the victim to withdraw large sums of cash or go and buy high value items. Sometimes they instruct the victim to leave their bank cards in an envelope somewhere safe. In all cases, a ‘courier’ will then come and pick up the cash, expensive item or envelope, on behalf of the police or bank. They will often come to the victim’s home address.

What you need to know

To avoid becoming a courier fraud victim, always remember…

Your bank or the police will NEVER:

– call and ask you for your full PIN or full banking password
– ask you to withdraw money to hand over to them
– ask you to transfer money out of your account

PC Bernadette Lawrie, BEM, Financial Abuse Safeguarding Officer for Surrey and Sussex Police says: “Behind all of the clever tricks and ever-changing narratives, there are a few basic recurring elements that are common across many frauds, including courier fraud. 

“It pays to stop and think anytime you receive a request for personal or financial information.

Remember, if you feel uncomfortable or unsure about what you’re being asked to do, never hesitate to contact your bank or financial service provider directly, using a number you trust, such as the one listed on your bank statements or on the back of your card.

“Alternatively, check your actions with a trusted friend or family member and get their advice on whether you should go through with any action relating to your finances.”

What is Sussex Police doing to tackle courier fraud?

Local officers across the county respond to every report of courier fraud and provide support, including advice and assistance on prevention measures, as part of Operation Signature, the force’s ongoing campaign to identify and support vulnerable victims of fraud.

Support that officers can give includes;

– helping them to change their phone number to an ex-directory number
– contacting family to suggest power of attorney
– mail re-direction
– offering them advice on call blocking devices
– referring them to other support services

Op Signature is also supported by Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne, who has funded two fraud Victim Support Case Workers over the past four years to provide further help for medium and high risk victims and prevent them from being retargeted. Her Sussex Elder’s Commission members spoke to thousands of older residents to highlight the threat of telephone and cyber-enabled fraud, and they helped persuade many people to take extra precautions, including installing call blockers which she funds.

Law enforcement agencies are working with banks to fight back against this type of fraud through a rapid-response scheme called the ‘Banking Protocol’.

This industry-wide UK Finance initiative first launched in Sussex two years ago, trains bank branch staff on how to spot when someone is about to fall victim to a scam and what they can do to prevent them from withdrawing cash to give to a fraudster. The staff can request an immediate police response to the branch to investigate the suspected fraud and catch those responsible. 

The ‘Banking Protocol’ is now operational across the UK and has already prevented customers nationally from losing £38 million to criminals. It also led to 231 arrests in 2018.

In Sussex it has so far prevented £5 million being lost and has led to 49 arrests. 

For further advice and information on preventing this type of fraud, see the Sussex Police website here.