Phone fraudsters hit Banbury’s vulnerable

Police Car
Police Car

A detective inspector is urging residents to look out for each other as fraudsters target the area’s elderly.

Detective Inspector Claire Storry, of Banbury police station, said elaborate phone scams which are currently taking place in and around Banburyshire are mainly targeting those who are elderly and vulnerable.

She said the police station has received several reports of attempted thefts and incidents in which victims have lost money in the past two weeks.

“Some involve someone calling from Hammersmith police station, but there is also one where people are asked to go to their bank and withdraw money and put it into a new bank account, or put money in a taxi and pay for it to be transported,” she said. The scam involves the fraudster calling a landline but not hanging up when telling the victim to ring a bank or the police, ensuring the call goes straight back to them.

One of those affected by an attempted scam is 68-year-old Mick Walker from Banbury who received a phone call last Wednesday from ‘Detective Inspector Hardy’ of Hammersmith police station.

Mr Walker said: “He said a young lad, who claimed he was my grandson, had been arrested as he was using my details to withdraw money from my account.

“He told me to call my bank and cancel my cards so I hung up and rang the number on the back of my bank card – but they had held the line open so when I called ‘Lloyds’ they said my cards had been cancelled and the money would be put back in the account.

“He said he would send out a form to fill in and if I didn’t return it within seven days, the money would be taken back out of the account – which is when I got suspicious.”

Mr Walker added the fraudsters may be working alphabetically as they called his brother – who has the same initials – straight after with the exact same story but said neither him or his brother lost any money.

Det Insp Storry said: “They target mainly elderly residents who have got the kind of money they‘re after so we need to get the message out to these people and need those who have got elderly parents, relatives or friends to warn them about it.

“A bank would never ask you to give details over the phone and police would most certainly never do that. These people are very persuasive and they are picking on nice and trusting people.”

Thames Valley Police is also working with other forces, including the Metropolitan Police in London, which is currently looking for a suspect in relation to the offences, although no arrests have yet been made.

Det Insp Storry added police are also working with taxi drivers in the area who are also targeted to take the money to the fraudsters.

“A lot of the time, the victims call the taxi and ask them to drive a parcel so the drivers don’t suspect anything,” she said. Det Insp Storry said police want to hear from anyone who has experienced anything suspicious. Even if you just got a call and immediately hung up, we want to know as we may be able to trace them,” she said.

Those with information should call the non-emergency police number 101.