POLICE are warning people living in Worthing and Lancing to be on their guard against a phone scam in which fraudsters pretend to be bank or police officials to try to obtain confidential details of their accounts.
Often they will also try to persuade victims to withdraw money from their banks and hand it to a pre-arranged courier to be securely processed. In fact, it simply disappears into the hands of the criminals.
As part of the scam, fraudsters may invite their victim to ring their bank or the police to convince them that the call is genuine. But by keeping the line open at their end, the criminals are able to take these calls themselves and use accomplices to play the part of officials.
It is important not to ring immediately, but to leave at least 10 minutes before using the same phone or else to use an alternative phone, such as a mobile, to call bank or police.
More than 20 such attempts were reported to police in Worthing and Lancing on Thursday, prompting officers to warn residents, particularly elderly and vulnerable people, not to be fooled.
In these cases the offenders had a man calling people stating he was a police officer from Scotland Yard investigating bank card fraud.
It was suggested victims call 999 to check his bona fides, but then held the line open while accomplices pretended to be emergency call handlers.
While most of those targeted realised it was a scam, some did disclose bank details and one woman had her bank card collected from her.
A police spokesman said: “If you doubt the credentials or intentions of anybody calling you, or you receive a suspicious telephone call asking for bank details, requesting your card or instructing you to withdraw money or purchase a money voucher, we urge you to contact police immediately.
“No genuine organisation will ever ask to collect money or bank cards from your home or ask you to confirm a PIN (personal identification number).
“If you receive a suspicious telephone call of this nature, call 101 or email email@example.com quoting Operation Edisto.
“If somebody is at your door, or if you believe somebody is on their way to your address expecting to collect money or bank details from you, call police on 999 immediately.”