Fraudsters have been contacting people across South Yorkshire impersonating police officers and asking them to withdraw cash as part of fake undercover operations.
Members of the public have been contacted, usually by phone, purporting to be from the police, or in some cases the fraud team within their bank. The criminal claims they are investigating a fraud at a local bank branch where staff are suspected of being complicit, including issuing fake bank notes, and asks their target to help in the operation.
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.”
Customers have been told to visit their 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 is manipulated into taking out cash.
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 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.
”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,” said Mrs Worobec.
Advice to consumers on how to avoid this scam:
• 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 to be from 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. Then report it to Action Fraud and your bank on their advertised number.
Visit the Take Five to Stop Fraud website for more advice on how to stay safe from scams.