A warning has been issued about growing scam in which victims are targeted by criminals posing as police officers as part of a fake undercover operation.
The scammers contact members of the public, usually by phone, claiming to be from either the police or the fraud team within their bank. They then claim their are investigating an incident of fraud at a local bank branch where staff are suspected of being complicit, including issuing fake bank notes and asks the victim for their help in the operation.
As part of the scam, the individual is requested to visit the branch and withdraw a substantial sum, often thousands of pounds, of the supposedly counterfeit cash to hand over to the ‘police’ for ‘analysis’.
The victim is assured that the money will be deposited back into their account after the operation is complete. However, once the money is passed over the fraudster disappears with the cash.
The criminal instructs their victim not to discuss the case with anyone in the branch, giving them plausible explanations as to why they are withdrawing the money. As a result, despite being questioned by the bank staff, the victim takes out the cash, convinced that the staff are part of a fraud.
Two incidents of such scams have been reported in the north east Wales are in the past month in which significant funds were lost by both of the victims.
DCI Brian Kearney, NWP Local Policing lead on fraud said “On 9th November a person from Denbigh was contacted by an individual purporting to be from their bank’s Fraud Department advising they transfer funds to a ‘safe account’.
“The following day an identical call was made to an account holder from Flint, the caller on this occasion claimed to be from the Met Police Fraud Dept.
“Significant funds were transferred on both days and whilst some funds have been recovered the majority was lost to the fraudsters.”
In another version of the scam, the criminal convinces the victim to transfer money to a so-called ‘safe account’ to protect their funds from the ‘corrupt’ bank staff. However, the account is in fact controlled by the criminal.
All customers are reminded that the police and banks will never ask members of the public to become part of an anti-fraud operation or to transfer money to a ‘safe account’ for fraud reasons.
Katy Worobec, Head of Fraud and Financial Crime Prevention, Cyber and Data Sharing at UK Finance said: “This is a particularly nasty scam as it plays on people’s public-spirited nature to assist the police.
“We are receiving a growing number of reports of it occurring, with people often losing large amounts of money, so it’s vital that everyone is aware.
“Remember, the police will never ask you to withdraw money and hand it over to them for safe-keeping.”