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Courier Fraud awareness week

Courier fraud occurs when people hand over money or valuables to criminals posing as couriers.

Using a variety of different tactics, criminals will call the victim and convince them into withdrawing a sum of money and handing it over to a ‘courier’ who is sent to their home.

The victim may also be convinced into handing over their bank cards, PINs, as well as high-value items such as jewellery, watches and gold.

Typically, courier fraudsters target victims by claiming to be a police officer or a member of staff from a victim’s bank. They often pressure people into making quick financial decisions to assist with fictitious investigations.

National figures show that, last year alone, more than 3,500 people were victims of courier fraud, with losses totalling more than £15.2 million.

Whilst reports of courier fraud in Humberside are amongst the lowest in the country (8 reports, losses of £2,000 in 2021), they do happen – and have occurred recently.

During this incident, a person was phoned by someone who claimed that their bank details were compromised and must immediately contact Scotland Yard. The victim hung up, but the caller was able to remain on the line. The victim called 999 and spoke to someone (the caller again) who directed them to withdraw a significant sum from their bank. They were informed that a courier would arrive to pick it up.

Thankfully, in this situation, we managed to stop the scam.

This is just one method courier fraudsters employ to scam people out of their money. An analysis of data from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) has highlighted four other modus operandi (MOs) which are now more commonly being used by fraudsters.

Other methods used by courier fraudsters

  • Bank card expiry: Fraudsters claim to be from the victim’s bank and say their card is no longer valid. They ask for the PIN and then send a “courier” to collect the card before using it for fraudulent purposes.
  • Purchasing high-end items: The suspects pretend to be police officers and ask the victim to help with an undercover operation by purchasing expensive items like watches, jewellery and gold. Once the item is bought, the victim will hand over the item to the criminal.
  • Counterfeit cash/bank investigation: A person claiming to be a police officer or banking official informs the victim that they need to help with a banking corruption investigation. The victim is told to withdraw a large amount of money and the cash is picked up later by a courier to “check for fingerprints” or to “identify counterfeit bank notes”.
  • Computer takeover: The fraudster telephones the victim, purporting to be from their internet service provider, saying that they have had an issue with their internet connectivity and are due compensation. The victim is persuaded to download a remote access application, giving the suspects access to their home computers. The fraudster persuades the victims into thinking that they have been paid too much compensation and the victims then withdraw cash to pay the money back, which is later collected by a courier.
  • Signs of courier fraud

    Courier fraud usually starts with an unsolicited telephone call to the victim.

    Typically, the suspect will pose as a bank official, police officer or a computer or utility engineer.

    Courier fraudsters will usually request the victim purchases high-value items such as Rolex watches and gold bullion, withdraws cash or provides a bank card for collection from a courier.

    Fraudsters will instruct victims not to tell any family or friends about what they are doing.

    When carrying out courier fraud, criminals will request the victim hangs up the phone to ring their bank for confirmation while keeping the line open. The suspect then purports to be bank official and provides false confirmation.

    Fraudsters will also arrange for a courier to meet the victim to collect the item they have purchased.

    How to protect against courier fraud

    Detective Inspector Ben Robinson, of our Economic Crime Unit, said: “People targeted by courier fraudsters can be from any demographic, but typically prey on some of the most vulnerable people in our communities. Victims typically tend to be aged between 70 and 89. 

    “If you are in a caring or supportive role to people of these ages, I would urge you to start conversations about suspect schemes and the warning signs to look out regarding courier fraud. Often, just making someone aware of these can be enough help someone avoid falling victim to these callous individuals.”

    It is worth noting that:
    The police or your bank will never call you to ask you to verify your personal details or PIN.
    If you get a call asking you to do this, hang up, wait a few minutes and call your bank on a number you know to be genuine, such as the one on the back of your card. If you can, try to use a different phone than the one you were originally contacted on.

    The police or your bank will never send a courier to your home to collect your cash, bank cards, PINs or any other valuables. Any requests to do so are part of a scam.

    The police will never contact you out of the blue and ask you to participate in an investigation that requires you to withdraw money from your bank, or to purchase high-value goods, such as jewellery or gold.

    If you are contacted by someone you do not know, or cannot verify the identity of, follow the Take Five to Stop Fraud advice:

    Stop: Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.

    Challenge: Could it be fake? It’s okay to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.

    Protect: If you think you’ve been a victim of fraud, contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud online by clicking here or by calling 0300 123 2040.

    Alternatively, you can call our non-emergency number 101 to report information.

    Or, if you have information regarding those responsible for fraud, you can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.


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    Message Sent By
    Ian Holt
    (Humberside Police, Communications Officer, Corporate Communications)

    Neighbourhood Alert Cyber Essentials