People living in Gloucestershire are being warned about a new scam, in which fraudsters are targeting victims in phone calls where they claim to be police officers.
Police have had several reports in Stroud, Cirencester and Gloucester over recent days and are asking people to warn elderly or vulnerable family and friends.
The fraudsters will try to convince the person they are calling that they are assisting with an ongoing investigation, or that they are under investigation themselves for offences such as money laundering.
In one incident in Gloucester on Friday 19 March a phone call fraudster claimed the victim's National Insurance number had been located in a car which had crashed.
They said they had completed some checks and found that money is being laundered through their bank accounts, so their bank would soon be frozen.
The two fraudsters, a man and a woman, told them to open a new account and transfer over thousands of pounds, but when the victim said they did not have online banking, the fraudsters tried to convince them to withdraw £1,000 from the bank and go to a supermarket to buy £100 gift cards instead. They did not fall victim in this case.
In an incident in Cirencester earlier this week a caller claimed to be a police officer called DCI Ryan Harris from Hammersmith station.
He said he was calling about credit card scams and the victim was asked to withdraw cash so that the police could trace fingerprints.
The victim later called Gloucestershire Constabulary asking to speak to DCI Harris again and the call handler advised the victim it was a scam. They had not withdrawn any cash at that stage.
A spokeswoman for Gloucestershire Constabulary said: "Fraudsters like this are extremely manipulative, sound professional and are very convincing in order to gain a victim's trust.
"They will tell the person being conned not to tell anyone else about the call, including their own family or the bank.
"They will then arrange for a courier to come and collect the items - either cash, gift cards or other expensive items - at a location such as your home or place of work."
How to spot a scam:
Neither police nor bank officials will ever ask you to withdraw money from your account, purchase anything or hand over your personal details or passwords.
If you believe you are being targeted by a scammer hang up the phone and use a different phone line to call Action Fraud or the police, as scammers have a way to stay on the line and will pretend to be the police when you call back.
If you don’t have access to a different phone line, wait for a period of time and try calling a family member or friend first to make sure the scammer is no longer on the line.
Just because someone knows basic details about you like your address or date of birth, it doesn’t mean they are genuine bank or police employees.
Always question suspicious phone calls and report them to Action Fraud or the police.