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Phone fraud warning after incidents reported in Somerset

We’re reminding people to be cautious and recognise signs of telephone and courier fraud following a number of reported incidents in Somerset in recent days.

We’re investigating four reports in the Bridgwater area of fraudsters phoning potential victims and claiming to be police officers dealing with fraud.

In one instance, a woman in her 90s living in Sedgemoor, was called by a fraudster falsely claiming to be working for police in Bournemouth. He told her officers had arrested someone who had her account details and claimed her bank were involved in the scam.

He went on to encourage her to take out a four-figure sum from her bank and to lie to cashiers about why she was making such a large withdrawal, before handing it over to a ‘courier’ who would give her a password when he arrived. She duly handed the money to the fake ‘courier’ and also provided personal banking information over the phone, which led to money also being stolen from her account.

Fraud protect officer Amy Horrobin said: “Fraudsters tend to prey on the elderly and vulnerable people but anyone can be a victim. There’s no shame in being tricked by these professional criminals, they can be very convincing.

“We must stress though police will never asking you to make a withdrawal from your bank for an investigation. They will never ask you to hand over personal banking details, such as your PIN. And they will never ask you to hand money to a courier who will collect it. The same goes for banks and other legitimate organisations and agencies.

“It is difficult during a phone call out of the blue to always think clearly, especially if the subject appears at face value to be very serious.

“So if you are unsure if what you’re being told may be a scam, then hang up the phone – the person at the other end of the phone will not be offended by you being cautious, if they are who they claim to be.

“Leave it five minutes, make sure you hear a dialling tone and the person who called initially has cleared the line, before then calling the organisation or company back. Use a number they advertise on their website or in the phone book. Don’t use any number the person gives you.

“Alternatively call police on 101 or speak to someone you know for further advice.”

We are also aware of an unsuccessful attempt to defraud someone living near Glastonbury too over the past week.

Crime prevention advice

Genuine callers, such as from a bank, police or crime agency, will:

* never ask you to withdraw cash for them

* never arrange for cash to be collected by a courier

* never ask for bank card details

* never ask for your PIN

We’d urge any other victims in the Bridgwater area to come forward and contact the police on 101, giving reference number 5221045252.

More information on how to prevent being a victim of fraud is available on Action Fraud’s website and we’d ask people to spread the message to friends and family, especially people living alone, to prevent further victims.