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Alert after fraudsters fleece elderly Sedgemoor woman

PEOPLE are being told to be on their guard as police investigate fraudsters who phone potential victims and say they are officers dealing with fraud.

A spokesperson for Avon and Somerset police said: “We’re reminding people to be cautious after four reports in the Bridgwater area in recent days.

“In one instance, a woman in her 90s living in Sedgemoor was called by a fraudster falsely claiming to be working for police in Bournemouth. He told her officers had arrested someone who had her account details and claimed her bank were involved in the scam.

“He went on to encourage her to take out a four-figure sum from her bank and to lie to cashiers about why she was making such a large withdrawal, before handing it over to a ‘courier’ who would give her a password when he arrived.

“She duly handed the money to the fake ‘courier’ and also provided personal banking information over the phone, which led to money also being stolen from her account.”

Fraud protect officer Amy Horrobin said: “Fraudsters tend to prey on the elderly and vulnerable people but anyone can be a victim. There’s no shame in being tricked by these professional criminals, they can be very convincing.

“We must stress though police will never asking you to make a withdrawal from your bank for an investigation. They will never ask you to hand over personal banking details, such as your PIN. And they will never ask you to hand money to a courier who will collect it. The same goes for banks and other legitimate organisations and agencies.

“It is difficult during a phone call out of the blue to always think clearly, especially if the subject appears at face value to be very serious.

“So if you are unsure if what you’re being told may be a scam, then hang up the phone – the person at the other end of the phone will not be offended by you being cautious, if they are who they claim to be.

“Leave it five minutes, make sure you hear a dialling tone and the person who called initially has cleared the line, before then calling the organisation or company back. Use a number they advertise on their website or in the phone book. Don’t use any number the person gives you.

“Alternatively call police on 101 or speak to someone you know for further advice.

“More information on how to prevent being a victim of fraud is available on Action Fraud’s website and we’d ask people to spread the message to friends and family, especially people living along, to prevent further victims.

“We’d urge any other victims in the Bridgwater area to come forward and contact the police on 101, giving reference number 5221045252.”

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