£20,000 stolen from fake fraud investigation

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Staffordshire Police are warning people to be weary of fraud after approximately £20,000 has been stolen.

This follows a series of seventeen offences committed where criminals pose as police officers.

Fraudsters are asking their victims to take part in an undercover investigation.

They are contacting members of the public, usually by phone, claiming to be from the police, or in some cases their bank’s fraud team.

They state they are investigating fraud at a local bank branch, where staff are suspected of being complicit.

Issuing fake bank notes, and asking their targets to help in the operation.

As part of the fake investigation, the individual is asked to visit their bank and withdraw a large sum.

This is often thousands of pounds, of the supposedly counterfeit cash to hand over to the ‘police’ for analysis.

The victim is then promised that the money will be put back into their account after the operation is complete.

Once the money is passed over the fraudster will disappear with the cash.

The victim is instructed not to discuss the case with anyone in the branch.

Giving them plausible explanations as to why they are withdrawing the money.

Despite being questioned by bank staff, the victim takes out the cash, convinced that staff are part of the fraud.

Another version of the fraud is where the criminal convinces the victim to transfer the money to a so-called ‘safe account’.

They say it’s to protect their funds from ‘corrupt’ bank staff, but the account is controlled by the criminal.

Det Insp Rob Harvmann, of the force’s Fraud and Financial Investigation Unit said: “Fraudsters will use whatever way they can to get people to believe in them.

“Impersonating a bank official or a police officer reinforces that belief.

“It’s important to remember neither the bank nor the police will cold call you asking you to act on their behalf.

“Be vigilant, do not engage in conversation, put the phone down and tell someone you trust.”

“If you have been a victim of such a fraud and you have handed money to someone, please contact 101 or Action Fraud.”

Advice on how to avoid this fraud:

  • The police will never ask you to become part of an undercover investigation.
  • Or for you to withdraw cash and hand it to them for safe-keeping.
  • Be wary of any calls, texts or emails purporting the police asking for your personal or financial details, or for you to transfer money.
  •  If you are approached, or feel something is suspicious, hang up the phone and don’t reply.

Report it to Action Fraud (www.actionfraud.police.uk) and your bank on their advertised number.

Visit the Take Five to Stop Fraud http://takefive-stopfraud.org.uk for more advice on how to stay safe from scams.

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