Alert staff at Barclays Bank in Uckfield saved a 78-year-old woman from losing all her savings in a scam.
She was advised to withdraw £6,000 from the bank and warned that because staff at the bank “were usually in on the fraud”, she should stay on her mobile to the offender while she went to the branch so that he could hear the transaction.
Luckily the clerk spotted her suspicious behaviour and, knowing the caller could hear the transaction, limited her withdrawal amount to £1,000. Once the withdrawal had been completed, the caller hung up and the clerk stopped the woman to make sure she was ok.
The member of staff suspected the woman had been conned so called police officers, who intervened.
Sussex Police are now appealing for help from bank and taxi staff across the county to try to prevent vulnerable people being targeted by fraudsters.
They say there has been a rise in telephone and courier scams in which the victim receives a phone call from a person claiming to be from the police or the victim’s bank.
The offender tries to convince the victim that money has been taken from their accounts and that they should either contact 999 or their bank. The offender stays on the line and asks the victim to withdraw cash from their banks or hand over their cards to a courier.
On the same day as the Uckfield scam staff at HSBC in Hove stepped in to stop an 82-year-old being conned after he received a phone call at 2pm from a man claiming he was a police officer.
The victim was asked to withdraw £10,000 and to again keep the caller on the line so the bank transaction could be heard.
The victim was told his car was going to be monitored by a plain clothed officer. After talking to staff in the bank the man realised he was being scammed and the police were called.
On Thursday, March 5, a taxi driver became suspicious when he was asked to deliver a parcel, which turned out to contain 2,000 euros. Realising it was part of a scam he returned the money to the 77-year-old man from Pulborough who had given it to him and police were called.
Detective Inspector Rob Morland said: “Thankfully the taxi driver and several members of staff from banks have become suspicious about this sort of transaction and prevented victims handing over their money.
“The callers convince the victims that staff at their banks are in on the scam and that they are helping police by taking the money out of their accounts.
“We need to work together to keep vulnerable people safe. Everyone can do their bit to try to prevent these offences happening.
“Please spread the word and look out for any suspicious activity – not all victims will keep their mobile phones with them in the bank but they may be acting nervously.
“Police officers or bank staff will never aks for your details over the phone and will not ask you to take out money.
“If you have any suspicions about a phone call, please do not use the phone they have called you on to contact the police or the bank. If possible use another phone to report your concerns or contact a friend or relative.”
The police ask that If you have any information about these incidents or suspicions about a phone call you have received please email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 101 quoting Operaqtion Edisto or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.
For online advice on fraud prevention visit the Sussex Police website and see What I can do to Prevent Fraud.