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Woman conned out of £15,000 by fake police

By Jonny Drury | Mid Wales | Crime | Published:

A woman in Powys has been conned out of £15,000 by a fake undercover police operation scam.

Consumers in the region have been warned of a scam where criminals are posing as police officers and asking victims to take part in a fake undercover operation.

Fraudsters are contacting members of the public, usually by phone, claiming 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. 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. A woman from south Powys was reported to have lost £15,000, although the victim in her 70s claimed back £5,000.

Paul Callard, Financial Crime Team Manager for Dyfed-Powys Police, said: “This scam has targeted individuals in our force area and we’ve actually received a report from a female victim in her 70s from Crickhowell, who was conned out of almost £15,000.

“The victim was able to get the initial £5,000 back from the victims bank but however has not been able to get the other £9,638.16 back.

“Scams like these have such a negative impact on victims. I would urge people to please act with caution if approached by these types of scamsters. If in doubt, hang up and ring police on 101.”

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.

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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.

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.”

Jonny Drury

By Jonny Drury
@JonnyDrury_Star

Senior reporter covering Oswestry and Mid Wales.

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