Detectives warning people not to transfer money to ‘police officers’ after latest scam attempt

Tuesday, 22nd December 2020

DETECTIVES are warning people not to transfer or withdraw money to give to ‘police officers’ after another scam in Staffordshire.

We received a call at 2.40pm yesterday (Tuesday 21 December) from a bank branch in Burton-on-Trent after a customer entered asking to transfer a large quantity from cash from their account to another.

The customer, a man in his 40s from the town, claimed that somebody stood outside the branch was messaging his phone and waiting for him to complete the transaction.

The person outside the branch was posing as a police officer called Michelle Green and the customer stated he had received a call on his mobile phone from somebody using the Staffordshire Police backup phone number 0300 123 4455.

They claimed that the customer had been a victim of fraud and he needed to transfer the cash into another account for protection. After the initial phone call they had also been conversing with the customer through the WhatsApp instant messaging service.

As the bank branch had suspicions about the request the money was not transferred and the customer luckily did not lose any money to the scam on this occasion.

It follows a recent incident where a 38-year-old man from Stoke-on-Trent was contacted by a woman claiming to be PC Michelle Green using the spoofed phone number – this is where a criminal uses technology to make it look like they are calling from an existing phone number.

The number displayed on the victim’s phone was also Staffordshire Police’s back-up number 0300 123 4455. The woman asked him to transfer the money and that he could collect a cheque for the amount by attending a police station the next day.

Telephone scams posterAnd in a similar case on Friday (18 December), an elderly woman from Stafford answered a call and spoke to a person who said they worked for Greater Manchester Police.

The woman and her husband were convinced to visit their banks and building societies around Stafford and in total withdrew a large quantity of cash.

The woman was then asked to put the cash in a clear plastic bag and a black man posing as a police officer arrived at their house to collect it. It is not known whether they arrived in a vehicle or by foot, or whether he was dressed in uniform or posing as an undercover officer.

Detective Inspector Steve Ward, from the force’s Fraud and Financial Investigations team, said:

“Neither police nor bank officials will ever ask you to transfer or withdraw money from your account, purchase anything or hand over your personal details or passwords. Staffordshire Police do not use this number to contact anybody as it is for calls into Staffordshire Police only.”

“If you believe you are being targeted by a scammer, hang up the phone and use a different phone line to call Action Fraud or the police on 101, as scammers have a way to stay on the line and will pretend to be the police when you call back. If you don’t have access to a different phone line, wait for a period of time and try calling a family member or friend first to make sure the scammer is no longer on the line.

“Always question suspicious phone calls and report them to Action Fraud or the police.”

Anyone with any information should message Staffordshire Police on Facebook or Twitter quoting incident number 387 of 21 December, call 101 or alternatively contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

If you think you or someone you know has been defrauded, you can report it to Action Fraud online or by calling 0300 123 2040.