Police urge Sunderland residents to be vigilant after area targeted by phone scammers

Police are urging members of the public to remain vigilant after victims have been conned out of thousands of pounds by a sophisticated telephone scam.
Police are urging members of the public to remain vigilant after victims have been conned out of thousands of pounds by a sophisticated telephone scam.

Sunderland residents are being urged by police to remain vigilant after seeing phone scammers con vulnerable people in the area out of thousands of pounds.

Police are investigating a number of reports, predominantly in the Sunderland area, that have involved fraudsters phoning vulnerable individuals claiming to be police officers from the Metropolitan Police.

On some occasions, the caller has asked the victims to assist in a police investigation by withdrawing cash from their bank accounts.

Once the money is withdrawn, the fraudsters have arranged for somebody to then collect the money.

Last month an 87-year-old man from the Carley Hill area of Sunderland was tricked into handing over £6,000 as a result of the scam.

Three days later, an 84-year-old man living in the Fulwell area of Sunderland alerted police after being contacted by a man who claimed to work for New Scotland Yard.

The pensioner was told somebody had been using one of his cards in north London, and the caller then attempted to obtain personal information from him over the phone.

No information was disclosed and the victim contacted about the suspected scam.

Police are now urging members of the public to remain vigilant following similar reports.

Detective Inspector Chris Riley, of Northumbria Police, said: “Scammers are sophisticated criminals who often target and try to steal money from the most vulnerable in our communities.

“Fraudsters will lie and purport to be police and other officials. However, officers and banks will never ask you to withdraw or transfer money.

“We would advise members of the public to be vigilant of such scams and ensure their loved ones are made aware that some criminals operate in this way to try to achieve a quick win.”

Advice issued by UK Finance on how to avoid falling victim to this scam includes:

- The police will never ask you to become part of an undercover investigation or for you to withdraw cash and hand it to them for safe-keeping.

- Be wary of any calls, texts or emails purporting to be from the police asking for your personal or financial details, or for you to transfer money.

- If you are approached, or feel something is suspicious, hang up the phone and don’t reply.

- The telephone is a key route into the homes and lives of fraud victims. If you receive an unsolicited call, then hang up and take five minutes to verify the call via trusted means.

If you have suspicions or would like to report fraudulent activity, contact police on 101.