Fraudsters claiming to be calling from banks, HM Revenue and Customs, and a Facebook lottery have targeted people in Cheshire over the bank holiday.
Detectives are urging residents to be vigilant on the back of several fraud offences.
Detective Inspector Alastair Hinze, of Cheshire Constabulary’s Economic Crime Unit, said: “Three of the victims are from Warrington and there are others from Knutsford, Scholar Green and Stapeley.
“Callers purporting to be from HMRC told victims in Warrington and Stapeley that they owed money in unpaid taxes and would be arrested if they did not pay up.
“The other fraud offences in Warrington involved a caller pretending to be a detective, who asked a victim to move money from one bank account to another to assist with an investigation, and requests for money to enable a victim to receive a large amount of cash they had been told that they had won on a Facebook lottery.
“A victim in Knutsford received a call from someone purporting to be from a bank’s fraud department telling them that they needed to move money from their ISA accounts to ‘safe accounts’ due to corrupt employees having access to them.
“Unfortunately, some of the victims have lost large amounts of money as a result of these scams.
“A victim in Scholar Green also had money taken after being called from someone purporting to be from a telecommunications company. They told the victim that they had detected hacking on their internet connection and needed to run software to thwart the hackers.
“This paved the way for them to be able to steal money.
“Sadly, scams like this are very common, with people throughout the county and the country being targeted every day.
“Over-the-phone fraudsters can be very convincing and use a range of tactics to try to convince victims to part with their money.
“For example, they may claim to be working for the police and ask you to call 101 or 999 to verify their identity. When you try to do so you will end up talking to an accomplice as they will not put the phone down when you do, ensuring that the line is kept open.
“Scammers may also pretend to be calling you from your bank, building society, internet or phone provider or HMRC.
“All these scams are orchestrated by serious organised crime groups.
“I urge people living in Cheshire to be vigilant and to follow our advice on how to avoid falling victim to such scams.”
Cheshire Constabulary’s scam prevention advice includes:
The police or your bank or building society will never ask you to become part of an undercover investigation or for you to withdraw money and hand it to them for safe-keeping, or to transfer your money elsewhere.
Be wary of any calls, texts or emails purporting to be from the police, HMRC, your bank, your building society, your internet or phone provider or anyone else asking for your personal or financial details, or for you to transfer money (for whatever reason).
Do not give anyone purporting to be from a telecommunications company access to any of your internet enabled devices, passwords or personal information.
If you receive a suspicious call asking you to call back to verify that the caller is genuine, make sure that you verify that it is the correct number for the organisation they claim to be calling from. You should then only call back (on the organisation’s advertised number) either at a different time or by using a different phone.
If you are approached, or feel something is suspicious, hang up the phone and do not reply and then report it to police on 101, Action Fraud and your bank on their advertised number.
HMRC and lottery scams
If you receive a phone call – including an automated phone call – letter or email from someone purporting to be from HMRC saying that a warrant is out for your arrest for unpaid tax, this will be a scam. Report the scam to Action Fraud.
If you receive emails or letters saying that you have won a large amount of money on an overseas or online lottery you have not entered, ignore them.
If you have responded to such emails/letters/phone calls, break off all contact with the fraudsters immediately.
If you have given the fraudsters your bank or building society account details, alert your bank or building society immediately.
Be aware that once you have given your bank or building society account details to a fraudster you are likely to be a target for other frauds – fraudsters often share details about people they have successfully targeted or approached, with different identities used to commit further frauds.
People who have already fallen victim to fraudsters are particularly vulnerable to recovery fraud, which is when fraudsters contact people who have already lost money through fraud and claim to be law enforcement officers or lawyers. They advise the victim that they can help them recover their lost money, but request a fee. This again is a scam.
DI Hinze added: “If you have elderly relatives, friends or neighbours please ensure that they are aware of such scams and that you do everything you can to safeguard them and their savings.”
Anyone who believes that they have been a victim of a scam should contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. Cheshire Constabulary can be contacted on 101.