Prison for man who tricked two women in phone-enabled scam
A man who posed as bank fraud investigators and scammed two ladies, 88 and 70, out of just under £6,000, has been convicted of fraud offences.
Brandon Hurst, 21, from Beauclerk Close in Hounslow, contacted both women in July last year over the phone. He claimed to be calling from bank fraud investigation departments; Barclays on the first occasion, HSBC on the second.
He would deceive victims by falsely telling them there had been fraudulent activity on their bank accounts. After raising their concern, Hurst would offer them a solution, convincing them the cards would need to be returned to the bank, via a courier.
In one of the offences, Hurst used a technique that fraudsters often use. Did you know that even if a victim hangs up, fraudsters can stay on the line for a short time after? The next time the victim dials that phone, for example to double-check the number is real, the call will go through to the criminal where they are able to continue with the scam. To tackle this, we recommend waiting a couple of minutes before using the phone again, or calling from a different phone or mobile.
With the scam in full swing, and his victims tricked, Hurst told them how to present their cards to the courier and how PINs for each of the cards needed to be provided.
Trusting in the false information that was given, the victims handed cards over to a courier who arrived a short time after. The victims were given false hope that new cards would be issued within a matter of days.
As is the way with this type of fraud, known as Courier Fraud, the victims did not receive new cards and cash withdrawals are made from victims' bank accounts in the hours and days after the bank cards are handed over.
Detective Constable Lloyd Ives from North Surrey CID, said:
“The complexity of this offence shows the length at which the offender was willing to go to in order to get money.
“This organised operation preyed on the vulnerable and took advantage of the trust people have in each other. Tricking innocent people into handing over bank cards and account information so that their money can be accessed is the epitome of greed. I’m glad we were able to stop this individual before he could further offend.
“Courier fraud can be a hard offence to investigate, but I hope that the result of this case gives the people of Surrey confidence that we are working to stop those responsible for scams.”
Brandon Hurst pleaded guilty on 12 June 2018 and was sentenced to 6 months imprisonment suspended for two years. He has also been ordered to pay compensation totalling £5450 and 100 hours unpaid work.
Detective Inspector Matthew Durkin from the Surrey and Sussex Economic Crime Unit, said: “Phone-enabled fraud such as courier fraud needs to be at the forefront of people’s mind whenever they get a cold-call.
“Most fraudsters are methodical and dedicated to getting as much money from vulnerable people as they possibly can. They will devise scripts and tactics that pressure and convince people into handing over money and personal details.
“What we want everyone to remember is: under no circumstances should you agree to give banking or personal details, payments or money to anyone who calls you out-of-the-blue. As soon as you’re asked to provide any of the above, hang up.
“If you think someone is particularly vulnerable to phone fraud, please be vigilant and tell them that they should not entertain whatever it is cold-callers say.”
Throughout July, Surrey Police is raising more awareness of phone-enabled fraud. We will be sending out small place cards with some useful tips which can be placed next to telephones and act as a reminder for when those cold-calls come in. More on the campaign can be found here.
You can also help in reducing the impact cold calls have. If you know someone who lives alone, looks for conversation and either has means or has retired, then please tell them the following:
• They are unfortunately a prime target for fraudsters
• Banks, HMRC, Trading Standards and the Police will never call and ask for PINs or passwords, no matter the reason for needing them
• Legitimate organisations will never arrange to collect bank cards by courier
• If directed to “different departments” or professional-looking websites by a cold-caller, it’s likely to part of the scam
• Hang-up and report suspicions to ActionFraud on 0300 123 2040.
For more information, please visit https://www.surrey.police.uk/fraud