Hampstead police urge caution as pensioners fall victim to phone calls from ‘fake police’

Hampstead PC Hayley Mitchell and PC Nick Dayton are asking people to spread the word. Photo: Met Pol

Hampstead PC Hayley Mitchell and PC Nick Dayton are asking people to spread the word. Photo: Met Police - Credit: Archant

Officers are asking residents to warn their neighbours and relatives as elderly victims have been targeted by fraudsters posing as detectives.

Police in Hampstead described how unsuspecting elderly victims have handed their bank cards in an envelope to fraudsters posing as police officers outside their homes, after speaking to them on the phone.

PC Hayley Mitchell said in the past couple of days at least three people over 70 have been targeted by the con artists, with two out of three handing over their cards to criminals.

Con artists have been calling up people in the Hampstead High Street and Rosslyn Hill areas, introducing themselves as police.

They tell the victim that there is a problem with their card and they need to hand it to them, or they say that they have a suspect in custody that has a bank card with the victims name on it, and they need the real card from them.

In both cases, they ask to collect the real card from outside their homes, sometimes successfully.

PC Mitchell wrote in her newsletter to Hampstead residents: “We will not call you up and ask for your bank details, and would come to your address to take your bank card from you.”

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After residents receive the call, she advises that they should hang-up and make sure the line is dead before making any further calls.

There has also been a similar warning from the Frognal and Fitzjohn’s safer neighbourhood teams in West Hampstead.

PC Edward Bromilow wrote in his newsletter that in the most common cases of this courier fraud, “a fraudster telephones their victim and claims to be from their bank, the police or other law enforcement authority.

“They then coerce the victim into revealing their PIN and credit or debit card details. Sadly, the most common victims of courier fraud are the elderly”.

He added: “Oftentimes scammers will try to prove they are legit by getting you to call 999 or the number on the back of your card - but you are in fact still calling them as they haven’t disconnected the line their end. Very cunning...”

“First of all, be aware that the police or your bank will NEVER ask for sums of money, or your bank card or PIN number.

“Secondly, speaking quite honestly - I would never answer my landline phone these days. There are so many scams and cold callers. If someone wants to get ahold of me at home they can leave a message and I can call them back!

“If you do wish to verify the legitimacy of a caller, you can easily do so by unplugging your phone and plugging it back in again and then telephoning the bank or the police, or whomever.”

“Thirdly, if you do know any elderly or frail neighbours please, I would be very grateful if you could bring this to their attention so they are forewarned.”

– Hampstead Police have recently set up a Facebook page, visit: https://www.facebook.com/MPSHampsteadtn/