Criminals claiming to be police officers from Hertfordshire have defrauded an elderly East Hoathly man out of £8,600 in a subtly-executed telephone deception.
At noon on Monday (November 19) the 82-year-old victim received a call from a man purporting to be a detective sergeant investigating a bank ‘fiddle’ involving the use of fake banknotes.
The victim was asked to go to his bank in Uckfield and withdraw £5,000 cash - saying nothing to staff in case they were involved in the matter themselves.
After the victim read out serial numbers from some of the notes, bogus officers confirmed they were counterfeit and would have to be collected by a courier acting on their behalf.
The victim mentioned having previously drawn out £3,600 and again was told the numbers he read from them indicated that they were not genuine.
At about 5.40pm a ‘courier’ using an agreed password arrived to collect the cash, saying that officers would phone again later. But, of course, they never did.
PC Louis Morley, of Uckfield Police, said: “We would like to hear from anyone who may have seen this courier or the car he was driving.
“He is described as black, aged 18 to 20, around 5′ 8″ tall, slim and with short black hair. He was wearing a black satin style bomber jacket, black trousers and black shoes.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact Sussex Police by phoning 101, quoting serial 1148 of 19/11.
Alternatively they are asked to visit Crimestoppers or to call the independent charity anonymously on 0800 555 111.
PC Morley added: “Unfortunately the victim has had to accept he may never see his money again.
“The people who carry out this type of crime are extremely plausible, often claiming to be authority figures, and use a well-rehearsed patter and methods deliberately aimed at duping their victims into parting with cash.”
Advice on how to deal with such calls can be found on the Sussex Police website.
The police warning has been distributed in neighbourhood alerts.