Warning issued after Kent pensioners targeted by scammers pretending to be police

EMBARGOED TO 0001 FRIDAY JANUARY 21 File photo dated 03/04/16 of an elderly woman counting loose change. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) estimates it has underpaid 134,000 pensioners, mostly women, over £1 billion of their state pension entitlement, with some errors dating as far back as 1985. Issue date: Friday January 21, 2022. PA
Kent Police say the scammers have been trying to obtain financial information, bank card details, and online money transfers. Credit: PA

Scammers pretending to be police officers have been targeting pensioners in east Kent, prompting the police force to issue a warning.

Kent Police say the scammers have been trying to obtain financial information, bank card details, and online money transfers.

In January, seven residents from Ashford, Canterbury, and Folkestone were contacted by someone who falsely claimed they worked for ‘Hammersmith Police’.

The fraudster told five victims that someone had been arrested while trying to use a bank card or cloned bank card in their name.

Police say one of the victims was asked to call back via 999, but the scammer then stayed on the line to connect to the same phone number.

All of the victims became suspicious, refused to provide any bank details, and ended the calls.

However, an eighth pensioner from the North Downs area received a similar call and was defrauded of a large sum of money.

Detective Inspector Sheena Barrell of Margate’s CID, said: "Scammers are using increasingly credible-sounding stories to defraud their victims.

"Unfortunately, a lot of victims are often vulnerable and elderly members of the community and can be defrauded into losing a substantial amount of money.

"Please remember, a police force would never ask a member of the public for their bank details or money over the phone. If you receive a similar call, the advice is to hang up immediately and report it via our online form."

People are being told to ask for the callers details and then end the call if they are not confident the person claiming to be a police officer is genuine.

Kent Police say people should wait for at least five minutes for the call to clear and then contact 101, or 999 in an emergency.

A call handler will be able to verify whether the caller was genuine.

People are being told to never hand over any money, or other items, to a courier after receiving this type of call.

Anyone with information relating to the incidents should call Kent Police on 01843 222289, quoting reference 46/16428/23.

It can also be reported to Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111 or on their website.