Three arrested in East End after £1m courier PIN number scam in 8 counties
PUBLISHED: 16:48 18 August 2014 | UPDATED: 17:17 18 August 2014
Three youths have been arrested in dawn raids in London's East End today by detectives investigating a £1m courier fraud.
The investigation involves police in London and seven counties in the south-west which has been running for three months.
More than 300 people, mainly vulnerable elderly, have been victims of an elaborate fraud, duped out of cash totalling £1m in a scam first revealed in the East London Advertiser 12 months ago.
Officers with search warrants raided three addresses this-morning at Quaker Street and Thrawl Street in Spitalfields, where the youths, all 18, were arrested.
The police operation has involved the Met and five other police forces—Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Dorset, Avon & Somerset and Devon & Cornwall.
The courier fraud has snared more than 300 unsuspecting people, most of them over 60, all duped out of cash, including one who handed over £40,000.
But police fear there could be many more victims—too embarrassed by the scam to come forward.
“Today’s arrests should provide some reassurance that we are tackling this despicable crime which preys on the elderly and vulnerable,” Det Chief Ins Will White said. “It is possible some victims may feel too embarrassed or humiliated to report they’ve been duped—they should come forward.”
Fraudsters phone unsuspecting victims claiming to be police officers or bank officials looking into card fraud and asking them to tap in their bank-card PIN number on the telephone keypad. The bogus callers identify the digets by the touch tone—then a courier turns up on the doorstep to collect the bank cards as “evidence”.
Tricksters sometimes give a false phone number to call back. Unsuspecting victims may not wait for a dialling tone, but dials the false number instead, not realising they are still connected to the tricksters who con the victims out of giving PIN numbers and other details.
But police or banks never ask for account details or PIN numbers—and would never send a courier to collect bank cards or money.
Now police are appealing to families and neighbours to pass on warnings to the elderly or vulnerable and want taxi firms and drivers to be vigilant, especially if approached or asked to take small packages for elderly people.
The scams started in the south east, but have spread across the country, police revealed.
The Advertiser was first alerted to the scam exactly a year ago when Westferry Cars on the Isle of Dogs smelt a rat after it was hurriedly booked to take a 92-year-old woman to a bank in Poplar to withdraw cash. The firm alerted the bank and police and the scammers were foiled.
The woman’s nephew, Simon Lucas, told the paper at the time: “My aunt was saved from losing her life’s savings by the quick actions of the minicab controller.”
But the tricksters reappeared last month when five pensioners were approached with couriers calling at their homes in Poplar, Bethnal Green, Whitechapel and Stepney.