Typically, courier fraudsters target their victims by claiming to be a police officer or a member of staff from a victim's bank and they often pressure people into making quick financial decisions to assist with fictitious investigations. In 2021 alone, 3,625 people were victims of courier fraud, with loses totalling more than £15.2 million.
An analysis of data from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) has highlighted four modus operandi (MOs) which are now more commonly being used by fraudsters.
Four common MOs used by courier fraudsters
- Bank card expiry: Fraudsters claim to be from the victim's bank and say their card is no longer valid. They ask for the pin number and then send a "courier" to collect the card before using it for fraudulent purposes.
- Purchasing high end items: The suspects pretend to be police officers and ask the victim to help with an undercover operation by purchasing expensive items like watches, jewellery and gold. One the item is bought, the victim will hand over the item to the criminal.
- Counterfeit cash/bank investigation: A person claiming to be a police or banking official informs the victim that they need to help with a banking corruption investigation. The victim is told to withdraw a large amount of money and the cash is picked up later by a courier to "check for fingerprints or to identify counterfeit bank notes".
- Computer takeover: The fraudster telephones the victim, purporting to be from their internet service provider, saying that they have had an issue with their internet connectivity and they are due compensation. The victim is persuaded to download a remote access application, giving the suspects access to their home computers. The fraudster persuades the victims into thinking that they have been paid too much compensation and the victims then withdraw cash to pay the money back, which is later collected by a courier.
Signs of courier fraud
- Courier fraud usually starts with an unsolicited telephone call to the victim.
- Typically the suspect will pose as a bank official, police officer or a computer or utility engineer.
- Courier fraudsters will usually request the victim purchases high value items such as Rolex watch and gold bullion, withdraws cash or provides a bank card for collection from a courier.
- Fraudsters will instruct victims not tell any family or friends about what they are doing.
- When carrying out courier fraud, criminals will request the victim hangs up the phone to ring their bank for confirmation while keeping the line open. The suspect then purports to be bank official and provides false confirmation.
- Fraudsters will also make arrangements for a courier meet the victim to collect the item they have purchased.
Anyone who receives an unexpected call from someone claiming to be one of these officials should verify they are speaking to someone genuine: hang up, wait five minutes and call back on a number they know is genuine.
Take Five To Stop Fraud advice
Stop: Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.
Challenge: Could it be fake? It's okay to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
Protect: If you think you've been a victim of fraud, contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud online at police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.