A Peterborough man targeted by an elaborate fake police scam was prevented from losing nearly £20,000 thanks to a last minute intervention.
The victim, who does not wish to be identified, said he was relieved not to have parted with the money after being targeted yesterday afternoon (Thursday, February 23).
He said: “It started with a phone call from the Visa fraud office to tell me they recognised unusual activity on my Visa card. They asked me if I had been in Birmingham that morning and made any purchases in John Lewis in Birmingham.
“The purchases were around £1,000 and £600. I said I had not been in Birmingham and had not made any purchases in John Lewis.
“They asked me questions and said it looked as if my account was at risk.
“They had identified some fraudulent activity that looked as if it originated from Kenya. A sum of £29,000 was mentioned that was likely to have been fraudulently taken from my account.
“They said they would like me to call my local police and gave me a number of 161 to call. They said that was the non-emergency local police number, would I please now ring them.
“I now realise that’s not the non-emergency number.”
The victim was told by somebody posing as a detective inspector that this was a nationwide scam and that police were in the middle of a long investigation.
He was then passed onto a “Detective Inspector Martin of the Serious Fraud Office at Scotland Yard.”
The victim was told to protect his money by transferring it to his main account, purchasing two high-end quality products amounting to £20,000, and that his bank would then send a courier to collect the products.
This was to make sure no more money could be taken from his account.
The victim said: “At every stage I said ‘I think you’re scamming me’ and he assured me. He was very professional with a lot of police jargon and said it’s not a scam.
“He said if you’re unsure we will get the NatWest customer service department to call you and verify what we are doing.”
The victim then received a phone call from a number which matched the phone number on his bank card, with the caller confirming he was part of a police investigation.
“I put the phone down having spoken to an African woman. The call was not a good connection which made me a bit more suspicious as well,” said the victim.
However, he was still not convinced but received another fake call from somebody pretending to be from NatWest confirming the police investigation.
And even when he tried to ring Scotland Yard himself, the victim’s call was intercepted by the scammers.
So despite his doubts, the victim then went into a jewellers where he was set to buy two Rolexes for a little under a combined £20,000. He said: “Fortunately for me he said ‘are you purchasing these for yourself or has somebody asked you to do it’.
“I said I’m part of a police investigation. He said ‘I’m sorry you’re not part of a police investigation’.”
“Unfortunately for one gentlemen had been in there an hour earlier at the same jeweller he had spent a lot of money.”
A call to the real police then confirmed the scam.
The victim said he would not have handed over the watches without receiving money into his account first to compensate him for the purchases, but he acknowledged: “The whole thing was very, very convincing.
“My first thought when I found out was ‘thank goodness I have not had to go through with this’.”
He added: “The police told me this was a scam they were already investigating and it was not the first one. There have been a number of them and they were in the process of identifying who they are.
“There have been quite a number of these attempts made.”
The victim’s advice is if you receive a call from a card fraud office about unusual activity to immediately put the phone down and ring the card fraud office yourself.
He added: “Part of this scam is they keep you on the phone all the time - that’s how they intercept calls that you make.
“Check your bank account straight away to see if the alleged purchases have gone out of your account before you do anything.
“It’s very sophisticated and very clever these days. If you’re not suspecting it you can be taken in by it.”
Police investigating the series of fraud incidents have now released an image of a car they believe to be involved.