ESSEX Police is warning people to be vigilant about a scam where criminals are posing as police officers involved in a fake undercover operation.
Officers have received reports that people are being contacted by criminals purporting to be from the police or from the fraud team within their bank.
These criminals are then claiming to be investigating frauds at banks where workers are suspected of being complicit, including issuing fake bank notes.
They ask their victims, who are convinced it’s legitimate, to withdraw substantial sums of money before handing it over to a courier at an agreed time or location.
In some circumstances the criminal convinces the victim to transfer money to a so-called ‘safe account’ to protect their funds from the bank staff.
Last month, two women, aged 77 and 90, handed over thousands of pounds after falling for the scam and withdrawing cash from banks in Colchester and Wivenone.
Detective Chief Inspector Lee Morton of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate said: “Criminals who carry out these types of offences prey on the most vulnerable members of society and care little if their victims are left penniless as a result of the lies they are spun.
“We have made a number of arrests associated with this form of criminality in recent months and will continue to come down hard on anyone who poses as somebody they are not in order to trick people out of their savings.
“In the meantime we are fully supportive of the national campaign to raise awareness of this issue, which we hope will make people think twice before trusting others with their hard-earned money.’
Anyone with information about this scam or suspects people are acting suspiciously is urged to call police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
If you suspect a scam you should report it to both the Financial Conduct Authority and Action Fraud.
For more information on fraud visit https://www.essex.police.uk/advice/fraud/ or https://www.essex.police.uk/ask-the-police/question/807/.