Residents in Merseyside are being warned of a new scam circulating where the fraudster is posing as a police officer to try and trick people and obtain money from them.
Officers have received reports that a fraudster is calling residents and pretending to be a fake officer named Detective Constable Matthew Phillips who is from police stations in the region in an attempt to deceive the person.
The scam is called courier fraud where they try to win their trust by getting them to call 999 and the fake operator pretends to transfer the call to the bogus police officer, DC Matthew Phillips.
Another tactic fraudsters are using is asking victims to post the money to them through the postal system.
To check if a call from a police officer is genuine then call Merseyside Police on 101 to confirm their identity.
If you have been on the phone to an unknown caller and become suspicious then hang up and wait five minutes before calling police. As fraudsters can stay on the line and keep it open after the victim has hung up. If you leave it several minutes between calls this will make sure that the call has been closed.
If an officer contacts you in person, they will show you their police warrant card. This is proof of their identity and authority.
Detective Inspector Stephen Ball, from the Economic Crime Unit at Merseyside Police, said, “We have received around eight reports from elderly people from across the region including West Derby, Bootle, Southport and Wirral, who have said they have been called by a fraudster pretending to be a police officer.
“In some instances, the trickster claims to be calling from Albert Road Police Station in Southport and in others he has said he is calling from Upton Police Station.
“Sadly one person became a victim to the scam and handed over their hard-earned savings to them.
“Police officers would never call anyone and ask them to hand over money or bank cards in this way, and we urge members of the public to be vigilant and not fall prey to the tricksters.
“We would also never use 999 to verify details which is only used in cases of emergency.
“If you become suspicious of the caller then please call a relative or call the police before providing anything, including information, to a cold caller.”
Merseyside Police is supporting a campaign run by the charity Crimestoppers to raise awareness of what courier fraud is.
Crimestoppers, who are independent of the police, report that around 60% of victims are over 70 years old and the average loss per person is around £5,000. The highest single report last year was £640,000.
In 2021, according to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB), over 3,600 people fell victim to courier fraud. Total losses exceeded £15m. One victim was a woman in her 80s who was conned out of more than £30,000 after handing over her debit card and her driver’s licence.
Mick Duthie, Director of Operations at the charity Crimestoppers, said, “As the cost-of-living crisis bites, there’s never been a more important time to warn people about this sickening scam that targets the vulnerable. Courier fraudsters need to be exposed, which is why we’re running this campaign to highlight the dangers and appeal for information.
“Please help us stamp out courier fraud. If you know someone who is responsible but want to stay anonymous, tell our charity what you know. Call freephone 0800 555 111 or visit Crimestoppers-uk.org. Together, we can help protect potential future victims from being defrauded in this particularly horrible way.”