London card courier scam nets 2,229 victims in two years

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A scam in which people are tricked into sending their bank cards to criminal gangs in London has lost victims more than £2.4m in two years, police say.

So-called "courier fraud" targets elderly people and involves criminals phoning victims pretending to be from an authority to extract pin details.

An unwitting courier or taxi driver is sent round to pick up their bank card.

The scam has claimed 2,229 victims - most of who are in their 70s - in London in two years.

Events are taking place across London to highlight the growing problem.

'Immense' payoff

According to Scotland Yard, between January 2011 and December 2012, £2,408,800 was defrauded.

But it estimates the actual overall loss to all victims is well in excess of this.

Since January 2011, 130 suspected courier fraudsters have been arrested and 93 charged.

Met Police commander Steve Rodhouse said the fraudsters put a huge amount of time and effort into being convincing because "the pay-off is immense".

Boroughs with highest reports of courier fraud

  • Camden - 260
  • Barnet - 194
  • Westminster - 179
  • Kensington and Chelsea - 121
  • Wandsworth - 105

Source: Met Police, Jan 2011-Dec 2012

He added: "We want people to question even truly genuine sounding calls and, most importantly, remember police and banks will never ask for your pin or bank card, so you should never give these away."

The fraud works by the suspect telephoning the victim and claiming to be someone from an authority - usually the police, bank or Serious Fraud Office.

They tell them that their bank account has been compromised and that they are to phone a number.

The fraudster stays on the line unbeknown to the victim, who uses the keypad to type in their pin.

Once in possession of the card and the victim's bank details, criminals are able to empty their account, taking an average of £4,000.

The most someone has been convicted of defrauding is £244,500.

Courier Fraud Awareness Day activities will include:

  • 2,500 police cadets in letter-dropping fraud prevention flyers to homes across London
  • Presentations given to elderly residents
  • Courier fraud prevention stalls set up at transport hubs and key community areas

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