ALERT bank staff in Bognor Regis stopped fraudsters stealing £10,000 from an elderly customer.
The employees at the town’s Barclays Bank branch foiled the conmen’s attempt to take money from the 81-year-old woman’s account.
A Sussex Police spokesman said the incident occurred on December 23. The woman had been convinced to withdraw the cash to give to men who said staff at the branch were working with fraudsters to steal from her.
“Thankfully, bank staff at the branch of Barclays in Bognor were concerned about the withdrawal and raised the alarm after the pensioner was contacted at 10.30am,” said the spokesman.
The scam was repeated soon after in Burgess Hill for £6,000. Six other reports around Sussex are known to the police.
They were among at least 20 attempts in the area to trick vulnerable people out of money in a week.
Detective Inspector Rob Walker, of West Sussex CID, said: “These people are contacting people they believe to be vulnerable and trying to scare them into handing over bank details or cash.
“Some of the victims have only narrowly avoided handing over thousands of pounds to the gang.
“There could be others across the county who have been contacted or who have fallen victim to the gang but are too afraid or ashamed to come forward.
“Please contact us as we we need your help to catch those responsible.
“We also need members of the community to be aware this scam is going on so they can intervene if they think someone has been duped by the gang.
“We would urge anyone who comes into contact with vulnerable people - including bank staff, taxi drivers and nurses - to contact us if they hear anything at all.”
The fraudsters phone elderly people and pose as police officers. They claim to work for other police forces and tell them they almost became a victim of bank fraud.
The gangs convince the victims to hang up the phone and call the police control room to confirm what they are saying and then contact their bank.
But the victims are unaware the fraudsters do not hang up. They pose as other police officers and then bank staff until they have the victim’s bank details.
A courier is sent to the victim’s home to collect their bank card before they withdraw cash.
The victim can also be asked to take out the cash to give to the gang to keep safe.