Welcome to your MAY 22 Newsletter for Epsom & Ewell Neighbourhood
"Each month we see many incidents of fraudsters targeting our residents in an attempt to defraud them. We’re working hard to prevent this and support vulnerable victims of fraud or scams. By following our tips and encouraging family, friends and colleagues to do so too, you can reduce the risk of becoming a victim." T/Detective Chief Inspector Rob Walker, Surrey Police & Sussex Police Economic Crime Unit
This May, all forces are working together on a national campaign to target criminals committing courier fraud, a crime which has continued to increase. This newsletter tells you what courier fraud is, how to spot the signs and what you can do to prevent it.
What is courier and impersonator fraud?
Courier or impersonator fraud is where a fraudster calls a victim impersonating the police or a bank. The fraudster claims to need the victim to partake in a fraud investigation by withdrawing or transferring funds. In some cases, victims have been persuaded to buy Rolex watches or gold bars - although in most cases, victims are persuaded to transfer money into another bank account or hand over cash and bank cards after disclosing their PIN.
After persuading the victim to part with funds, fraudsters will often send a 'courier' to the victims address to collect cash or cards.
Fraudsters often give varying stories as to why they need the victims help. They may claim that the victim's bank is committing fraud, that they have arrested a fraudster who they need evidence against, or that they have spotted fraudulent activity associated with the victim’s accounts. They can be very convincing and will often discourage victims from speaking with anyone else about the situation.
In Surrey and Sussex, courier and impersonator fraud is one of the highest recorded fraud types affecting our residents. In 2021, Surrey and Sussex received 1063 reports of courier and impersonator fraud in relation to vulnerable and elderly victims.
57% of victims lived alone; the majority of victims were over the age of 75.
37% of victims were male, 63% of victims were female.
Protect yourself from courier fraud
· Act with care if you get an unsolicited call.
· The police or your bank will never ask you to withdraw money or hand over your bank cards.
· Never transfer funds into a new account on the instruction of an unexpected caller - even if they tell you the account is in your name.
· Never share your PIN number or enter your PIN number into a telephone.
· Never withdraw money or give your bank cards to anyone who comes to your door, no matter who they say they are.
Please pass this advice onto your loved ones, particularly those who are elderly or vulnerable.
An 85-year-old female from East Sussex was called by someone claiming to be from the police. The caller claimed to be 'DI Evans' from the 'fraud team'. The caller explained to the victim that they had arrested a suspect who was claiming to be the victim's niece. The victim was then passed to a different 'officer' who claimed the arrested female worked at a bank and the victim’s bank account was under suspicion of fraud.
The victim was asked to support the investigation by attending her local bank branch and withdrawing £5000, which was to be later collected by a 'courier' and 'analysed'.
The victim attended her local branch to make a withdrawal. Once in the branch, the victim indicated to staff that she was secretly on the phone to someone which raised suspicions. Staff at the bank refused the withdrawal and raised banking protocol. Thankfully, due to the quick actions of the bank, the victim did not suffer any loss and was safeguarded by the bank and genuine police officers who attended.
Spot the warning signs of courier fraud
· Have you had a phone call out of the blue by someone claiming to be from your bank or the police?
· Did you receive a text message asking for your personal and/or banking information?
· Are you being asked to withdraw or transfer funds to a 'safe account' due to an urgent investigation?
· Has the caller suggested cash or bank cards be collected from your home address?
· Have you been asked to post your bank cards or a sum of cash?
How to check if a caller is genuine
· Stop! If the caller has introduced themselves as someone who works for the police, wait five minutes and then call us on 101 to check their identity.
· Has the caller given their details? Have they explained why they are calling you?
· If in person, ask to see the persons warrant card.
· Always question and follow your gut instinct - never be afraid to ask an officer to show they are genuine. A genuine police officer will always provide their details and allow you time to check their identity with 101.
Have you been a victim of fraud?
If you or someone you know is vulnerable and has been a victim of fraud call:
A firearms surrender across Sussex and Surrey begins on Thursday 12 May to Sunday 29 May.
This forms part of a national campaign by the National Ballistics Intelligence Service (NABIS).
People in possession of unwanted guns or ammunition are being encouraged to hand them in as part of a campaign to make Sussex and Surrey a safer place.
The aim of the operation is to reduce the number of illegally held firearms in circulation which could fall into the hands of criminals. This activity is referred to as Operation Aztec. During the campaign, those surrendering firearms will not face prosecution for the illegal possession upon surrender and can remain anonymous.
Items to be accepted as part of the surrender include replica firearms, air weapons, BB guns, imitation firearms, antique guns, component parts and other ballistic items. This year, CS Pepper spray, stun guns and Tasers are also being requested as part of the surrender.
Many firearms are held in innocence and ignorance of their illegality or are overlooked and forgotten in people's homes. Others are acquired and distributed by criminal networks to harm, threaten and intimidate their local communities. This appeal gives people the chance to dispose of firearms or ammunition by simply handing them in at their local police station.
Furthermore, lawful gun licence-holders can be reassured that these measures merely enhance their rights and privileges to own firearms, by removing the dangerous ones from the wrong hands. They are also encouraged to use this campaign to consider the surrender of weapons they no longer have any use for.
Our message is clear:
If you have any guns or ammunition you no longer want, or if you don't know what to do with them or how to safely dispose of them, we can help. By surrendering your weapons now, it will prevent them falling into the hands of criminals and endangering the public. The fight against gun crime is stronger than ever, and we are working with partners and our local communities to safeguard, educate and intervene at the earliest opportunity. We take all reports of incidents involving firearms extremely seriously, and robust action will be taken against anyone who commits a firearms related offence.
Louise Sutton, Head of Intelligence, said: "We are jointly participating in this firearms surrender alongside our colleagues across the country and this is a great opportunity for anyone who has a firearm or ammunition that they want to get rid of to do so safely and anonymously.
"We know that all sorts of people can end up with a firearm or ammunition; things are brought back from conflicts as war trophies or get handed down through families as an heirloom. Some are found when clearing out a loft or garage, and some will be held for safekeeping. With 3D printers cheaply available we are also seeing home-made firearms made up of printed and purchased parts; some people might have made one of these through idle curiosity but now do not know what to do with them.
Our message to everyone is whether what you have is illegal or not, and whatever and however you came to have it, please hand it in. Our NABIS officers have extensive expertise on firearms and will assess each item that's brought in so that any which are potential items of national heritage are not lost but find their way to places such as the Royal Armouries."
This is a firearms surrender and not a general firearms amnesty for the lifetime of the firearm; an amnesty will be granted for police possession of an item only at the point of handover (surrender).
Members of the public will be directed to hand weapons and ammunition and other ballistic items to the following police stations within Surrey:
On a specific note, while unregistered QUAD BIKES continue to be an issue in the Epsom area, which we strive to tackle, we were able to respond to a call from residents and stopped a RED QUAD BIKE. We established it was unregistered and had been used before in an anti-social manner so Police seized it, giving the rider a Section 59 Notice.
The local Neighbourhood Team are keen to receive information on all crime spotted or believed to have occurred as this can assist with ongoing enquiries, as well as helping to pool information to build a wider understanding.
So If you believe you have any information relating to relevant information or concerns you can: