Police worry phone conmen are set to target Somerset
Police are warning people to be on their guard about a well-used scam that is making a come-back.
There have been two reported incidents this week – one in Bristol and one in South Gloucestershire, both of which caused significant loss to the victims.
Police believe the criminals identify potential victims by randomly choosing them from the phone book and ringing their landlines.
This helps them to gain the victim's trust as they seem to know their name and address.
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A fraudster rings you, claiming to be from either from your bank or the police, saying that someone has been arrested with a cloned bank card and the account belongs to you.
You may be asked to ring back using the phone number on the back of your card or bank statement, which further convinces you the call is genuine.
However, the criminal keeps the line open at their end so when you make the call and hear an extract from your usual telephone banking message, you believe you are speaking to your bank, but unknowingly you are connected straight back to the fraudster.
The criminal may then offer assistance which will help them to gain your trust.
In most cases you are asked to cancel your existing card or 'activate' or 'authorise' a replacement card by keying your PIN into your phone's handset.
Next the fraudster poses as a bank representative and comes to pick up your card from your home, sometimes giving you a fake replacement card.
In some cases a genuine courier company is hired to pick up the card, which you've been asked to place into an envelope.
In some instances you are asked to put in any money you have in the house to keep it safe in your bank account. Once they have your card and PIN the fraudster uses them to access your money.
DC Greg Brunt, Bristol's financial intelligence officer said: "If you receive a phone call that seems suspicious, end the call immediately and don't give out any information. Instead call your bank from another phone or go into a branch.
"These criminals are very sophisticated in the way they operate and will work quickly to gain your trust.
"If you think you've been a victim of this type of crime then please contact us on 101. Don't feel silly or foolish – you've been deceived by some very clever criminals and have nothing to be ashamed of.
"By coming forward you can help us to track down these fraudsters and stop this happening to anyone else."
• Your bank will never ask for your PIN details
• Your bank will never collect your bank card
• Your bank will never attend your home
• Should you receive such a call, end it immediately and call the police on 101
Gill Lowe, 59, from Whitehall in Bristol was one of the recent victims.
Mrs Lowe said: "If I'd have heard of this scam then I might not have fallen for it. It's very easy with the benefit of hindsight to beat myself up about being so stupid, but the scammers are so convincing and when you're caught up in the moment, it's very easy to believe what they're saying.
"They keep you talking and you really think you're talking to the bank. They say all the things the bank would say and very cleverly feed into what you already know about card fraud.
"So they say 'someone's cloned your card' and you think, 'oh I've heard about that' so you do all you can to try and sort it out.
"This is less about the money we lost and more about the way it's made me feel. I felt ill when it happened and now I feel very vulnerable and paranoid about everyone.
"If it can happen to me then it could happen to anyone – I'm not a silly old lady and I hope that by speaking out I can stop this happening to other people."