Fraudsters have conned York people out of tens of thousands of pounds in the last few days.
North Yorkshire Police are warning people to be extra vigilant after three separate reports of fraud in the city in quick succession.
This follows on from two similar reports earlier in the week in the Harrogate area in which the unsolicited callers claimed to be from calling from police fraud squads.
The first victim is a woman in her 70s who lives in York.
She was phoned on Monday, April 23 by a man who claimed to be a ‘Sergeant Wiggins’ and was calling from a 999 number.
He said that there has been suspicious activity on her account and that they needed her to visit a shop on Coney Street to purchase a Rolex watch, some euros and some money to help to rectify the situation.
At 10pm on Thursday April 26 a man called ‘Jamal’ arrived, in what is described as a ‘Speedy Delivery’ van.
He provided the password ‘sunflower’, which had been given to the victim in an earlier phone call with ‘Sergeant Wiggins’ and left with the watch and money.
In total the value of the watch and money came to £40,000.
In a second incident, a husband and wife, both in their 70s living in York, were contact two weeks ago from a man who said he was from a fraud squad.
He said that their account had been defrauded and they needed £3,000 from it so that they could investigate.
The couple withdrew the money and then, on Friday April 20, an unknown person attended their address and collected the money.
In the third incident in York, a woman received a phone call on Thursday April 26 from a man called ‘Brian Park’ who claimed to be calling from NatWest’s Fraud Squad.
He said that there had been suspicious activity on her account and that someone had tried to pay for goods at Homebase and John Lewis for a sum of £1,645.
He said that he would block the transactions for her and get someone from HSBC to call her.
Later the victim received a phone call from what she believed was HSBC who said that the police and a fraud squad were investigating.
In the meantime, the caller convinced the victim that she would need to move her money to another account within 24 hours.
The victim visited her bank and transferred £7,800 into an account that had been provided to her over the phone.
The caller then said a police officer would visit her home address on Saturday (April 28). When she called North Yorkshire Police to confirm the details of the appointment it became apparent that she had become a victim of fraud.
Tricks and lies
Investigations are on-going and the victims are being supported by officers.
Detective Inspector Jonathan Rowland of North Yorkshire Police’s economic crime unit said:
These fraudsters are extremely well organised and rehearsed and use a range of tricks and lies to convince their victims into trusting them.
We cannot stress enough that the police or anyone from a bank would never ask you to withdraw or transfer money, or send someone to collect money from you, even with a password.
If you have any doubts at all you should always hang up and call the police immediately or speak to a family member.
How to help the police
In an emergency dial 999