Scammers impersonating police officers target Scottish Borders

PA Images stockshot of Police Scotland officers.
Credit: PA

The public is urged to remain vigilant amid an ongoing fraudulent banking scam involving people impersonating police officers.

Between October 2021 and January 2022, over 30 reports have been received from members of the public who have either been visited or contacted by individuals claiming to be Police Scotland officers.

On each occasion, the victim was contacted by telephone by someone claiming to be from a bank fraud department and advised that their bank account had been compromised.

They were then asked to either transfer money remotely to another account online or visit a bank and remove cash, which would later be collected by a police officer. 

While not every attempt to extort money was successful, those responsible defrauded a number of victims across Forth Valley, Fife, Lanarkshire, Dumfries and Galloway, Tayside, Ayrshire and the Scottish Borders.

Areas targeted:

  •  Prestwick

  • Ayr

  • Kilmarnock

  • Irvine

  • Motherwell

  • Blantyre

  • Dublane

  • Linlithgow

  • Stirlingshire

  • Falkirk

  • Dumfries

  • North Berwick

  • Galashiels

  • Cupar

  • Forfar

  • Aberfeldy

More than £300,000 has been defrauded from victims and inquiries to identify those responsible are ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to come forward.

In the meantime, police are offering advice to stop people falling victim to this scam and will be leafleting across Scotland to help educate communities on how police will engage with the public in person, over the phone and online.

Superintendent Hilary Sloan from Partnerships, Prevention and Community Wellbeing Division said: “While there are a number of ways police officers may look to contact you, please be mindful of this scam and always be suspicious of any unexpected contact.

“If you receive such a call, or visit, ask for the officer’s details and which department they work for. If the contact is by telephone, hang up and if possible use a different phone to contact the police service via 101, where you will speak to genuine members of Police Scotland and can request police officer verification. 

"We began a national roll-out of new identification cards, which feature an up-to-date picture of the officer, along with other key information and various security enhancements that make them extremely difficult to replicate," superintendent Sloan continued.

"This roll-out was started in October 2021 and all police officers should be able to provide this identification when carrying out legitimate police business.

"If you receive an email claiming to be from Police Scotland with a link to an external site to make a payment, this may also be fraudulent."

"We are treating this ongoing scam with the utmost seriousness and have officers around the country pursuing various lines of inquiry."

Those with information can contact Police Scotland via 101. Alternatively, an anonymous report can be made to the charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.