Identity Theft Now At 'Epidemic' Level
Four in five identity frauds now take place online; with those in their 30s falling victim more than any other age group.
Action Fraud is warning the public to protect their loved ones as criminals cheat older and vulnerable victims out of cash and high value items through courier fraud.
Data from Action Fraud, the national reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime, reveals that £10,325,133 has been lost by victims to courier fraud since the start of this year – an increase of almost two thirds (63 per cent) compared to the same period last year.
What is courier fraud?
Courier fraud is when victims receive a phone call from a criminal who is pretending to be a police officer or bank official. Typically, victims are told to withdraw a sum of money and someone is sent to their home address to collect it.
Criminals may also convince the victim to transfer money to a 'secure' bank account, hand over their bank cards or give the criminals high value items, such as jewellery, watches and gold (coins or bullion).
Since the start of this year, Action Fraud has received 2,060 reports of courier fraud, with an average loss per victim of just over £5,000.
Almost two thirds (64 per cent) of victims were aged 70 to 89 years old, and over three quarters (84 per cent) of victims were aged 60 to 99 years old.
One common tactic used is where victims are contacted by a suspect who attempts to persuade them to purchase gold as part of a 'police investigation' that is later collected by a courier on behalf of the criminals.
In some cases, the suspects have invited themselves into the victim's home and collected other valuables, saying that the victim's possessions are no longer safe and they, 'as the police', can safeguard them.
Another common tactic used is called "open phone" where the victim is persuaded to stay on the phone to the criminal whilst they go to withdraw money or go to a jewellers. This stops the victim interacting with anyone else, or having the chance to think about what is really happening.
How to protect yourself and your loved ones:
Tell-tale signs of attempted courier fraud:
Action Fraud also advises that the public follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign to keep themselves safe from fraud.