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Six arrests as police investigate courier fraud scam targeting elderly people in Sunderland and South Tyneside

Two men have been charged in connection with a cruel con which saw pensioners in Sunderland and South Tyneside targeted for their hard-earned cash.

By Sophie Brownson
Thursday, 21st January 2021, 7:10 pm

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Northumbria Police revealed last week that officers had travelled to London and arrested five men as part of an ongoing investigation into reports that a number of elderly residents across Sunderland and South Tyneside had been approached by con-artists claiming to be police.

One pensioner from South Tyneside was sadly manipulated into handing over £7,500 to the scammers, believing he had already been a victim of fraud.

He was told he needed to withdraw cash and hand it over to a secure courier so it could help police with their ongoing investigation.

A cruel con has seen pensioners in Sunderland and South Tyneside targeted for their hard-earned cash.

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But, this week, the courier suspected of taking the cash has been arrested and charged in connection with the conspiracy - bringing the total number of arrests to six.

Detective Chief Inspector Sharon Chatterton said: “Time and time again we see fraudsters targeting the elderly because they are isolated and often seen as easy targets.

"This type of behaviour is disgusting and we will not tolerate it in our region.

“While these arrests are a great result, our investigation is far from over, and anyone involved in this type of criminality can expect to be dealt with by our officers.

“What’s awful is that many people who find themselves caught up in a complex scam like this can often be unaware they’ve even been a victim.

“We are urging all families to speak with their elderly relatives and ask if anyone has called them out of the blue, or if they recently withdrawn money or handed over any valuables.

“Please help us to reinforce the message that police officers or your bank will never ask you to hand over money, or transfer funds.

"If you receive a call like this, do not interact - hang up and report it immediately.”

The investigation continues with specialist detectives from Northumbria Police and North East Regional Special Operation Unit (NERSOU) deployed as part of Operation Sentinel.

DCI Chatterton added: “In recent months, scammers have targeted scores of pensioners trying to convince them they’ve fallen victim to fraud, or that a family member has been arrested in London and a payment needs to be organised.

“We would encourage everyone to exercise extreme caution when speaking to a cold-caller.

"Make a note of who they say they are, what they are calling about, and then hang up.

"When you’re sure the line is clear, use a trusted phone number to check the call was legitimate and speak to family and friends about what’s happened.”

If you think you might have been a victim of courier fraud, please contact police via 101 or Action Fraud immediately by calling 0300 123 2040. You can also report it online at the Action Fraud website.

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