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Dartford pensioner becomes latest courier scam victim

PUBLISHED: 06:00 19 October 2013

Jeanette Atkins with Det Ch Insp Keith Davies

Jeanette Atkins with Det Ch Insp Keith Davies

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To have hundreds or thousands of pounds stolen from your bank account without ever seeing the thief is a terrifying thought.

In the past two months around 60 people in north Kent have been duped by fraudsters in what has been labelled the ‘courier scam’, with one victim losing as much as £45,000.

Jeannette Atkins, of Princes Avenue, Dartford was targeted by scammers last month, who stole £330 from her. And the worst part? That she handed her bank card to the thieves herself, believing they were legitimate.

Typically, the courier scam begins with a call from police, who in Jeannette’s case said they had caught three young boys who had been using her card details.

The 76-year-old widow was then told to call the number on the back of her debit card, but when she hung up from the fake officer the line was left open. Jeanette typed her PIN number into her handset under instruction from the ‘bank worker’ on the phone, blissfully unaware that he was in fact planning to raid her account.

“He said he was going to send someone out to collect my card,” said Jeanette. “That was because he wanted to cancel all the transactions the boys had made. Of course, he just wanted to take all my money.”

A taxi, potentially unaware of the scam, was sent to collect Jeanette’s card.

It took almost 24 hours for Jeannette to realise something was wrong, after the bank worker she had spoken to didn’t show up for an arranged home visit.

She added: “He told me if he was a minute late, then I should call the bank, which I did. They told me it was a scam.

“I was shocked and upset. I dissolved into tears a couple of times. I don’t know who would do something like this, or why. They just want to take advantage.

“I’m a bit nervous about people I don’t know coming over now, and I even took the names of the police officers who came to see me before they arrived.”

Kent Police say they have made a number of arrests in relation to these crimes, which netted criminals more than £7.5million last year in the UK.

Det Ch Insp Keith Davies, of the Kent and Essex Serious Economic Crime Unit, says there are similarities in the 60 per cent reported cases - but there has been a recent variation in the trend.

“Something I have seen in the last few weeks is people saying we believe an amount of money in your bank account is counterfeit and they need to examine it,” he said.

“Of course, that’s simply never going to be true. This is not the way that either the banks or police will operate.

“The actions of these thieves are nothing short of despicable, which is why we’re so keen for people to know about these scams. Thankfully Jeanette has told a lot of her friends, and warning others will help.”

For Jeannette, who lives on her own, the ordeal has been put to bed - with the bank replacing her stolen cash. But the scars of the crime remain, and the former Co-op worker says she’s most worried about how the fraudsters found her home.

“I was in the phone book,” she said. “I am worried about them turning up again, so I’m going to go ex-directory - but I’m not sure how much good that will do.

“I’ve never been a victim like this before, it’s just all been a big shock.”

Have you been scammed or know someone who has? Get

If you have information on a potential scam, call Kent Police on 01622 654367 or Kent Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

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