Police warning after Hastings woman loses £9,000 in another ‘courier’ fraud

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Hastings police are warning local residents after another ‘courier’ fraud took money from a woman in the town - although six other local attempts were unsuccessful.

The fraudsters targeted the lady in St Helens Crescent, Hastings at 3:30pm on Friday, February 6 and took more than £9,000 of her savings.

The lady received a phone call from a man claiming to be “Detective Sergeant (DS) Ray Marshall from MI5”. He claimed that her bank card had been cloned and that a purchase of £700 had been made at a furniture shop in Birmingham. He convinced the lady that she needed to close her account, make a cash withdrawal leaving only £500 in her original account and to tell the bank that she was buying a car.

“DS Marshall” gave the lady details to a new account and he would arrange for a courier to pick up the cash from her home address. He also advised her to call her bank to confirm that £700 had gone from her account.

The lady called her bank and explained what happened, and the bank then transferred her call back to him. He warned her not to tell anyone about his call. Unfortunately, the lady was not talking to her bank as he had never cleared the phone line and kept the line open to create the illusion that she was speaking to her bank.

Believing the officer to be genuine, the lady went to her local bank and withdrew just over £9,000. Later that evening, a courier arrived and collected the money from her.

The lady has now lost her life savings. This was reported to police the following day.

The courier is described as having a heavily tanned complexion, about 6’ tall, early twenties, of slim build, with short curly hair, tall, wearing a suit. He was also wearing either head phones or some sort of earpiece.

Detective Inspector Rob Morland of Hastings CID said, “There are no lengths that these fraudsters will not go to get money out of unsuspecting, trusting people. Their deceptions are cunning.

“Since this incident we have received a further six reports locally that share very similar characteristics. There were variations whereby the fraudster has for example pretended to be a police officer from Birmingham Police and from Scotland Yard in the Met.

“However, their tale is always the same - a bank card has been cloned and a large purchase made. Fortunately, these six potential victims felt that the ‘police officer’ was not genuine and did not give any money over or part with their bank details.

“Local officers are working with our local banks to ensure that their staff are aware of these fraudsters antics and to encourage their staff to be suspicious of particularly elderly people withdrawing large sums of money from their accounts. By working together we are hoping to reduce the number of people who may fall victim to these cold hearted fraudsters.”

If you have any information that would help the police investigation, or have received similar calls, please contact Sussex Police via 101@sussex.pnn.police.uk or call 101 quoting serial 513 of 7/2; You can also call the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.