Three of Hertfordshire Constabularyâ€™s Force Control Room staff foiled a phone scam on Thursday, April 17.
A man in his 70s from Elstree called police around 3pm after he received a telephone call from someone claiming to be a police officer investigating fraudulent activity on his bank account.
The offender convinced the man the call was genuine by telling him to hang up and ring his bank to confirm what had happened, which he did. What the victim didnâ€™t realise was that the offender hadnâ€™t hung up and so he was reconnected to them.
They then pretended to be from the manâ€™s bank and told him he needed to withdraw a large sum of money to assist their investigation. The victim did this and was instructed to send the money to them via an unsuspecting local taxi firm, which was arranged by the offenders.
A taxi arrived and collected the money, but the man then became suspicious and contacted the police using another telephone.
The Force Control Room call taker could hear the victim using the other phone to talk to the offenders and was able to extract vital information, including the name of the taxi firm, from the victim despite so much going on in the call.
Whilst the call taker was updating colleagues, and officers were dispatched, other staff had made calls to the taxi firm. They obtained the details of the driver and vehicle being used as well as its exact location. This quick thinking allowed officers to intercept the taxi before the money could be handed over to the offenders. The driver then attempted to assist officers with identifying those involved in the scam.
The three members of staff involved have been praised as they undertook a number of vital roles: from the initial phase of taking details, quickly realising the scam was still in progress and organising the policing response, to taking the initiative and calling the taxi firm, which ultimately prevented the victim losing their life savings.
Detective Inspector Jason Keane said: â€œThe quick thinking and dynamic actions taken by the Force Control Room staff was outstanding. Having been aware of how these scams work they were able to carry out a number of enquiries, whilst managing the initial call and police resources, which resulted in the victim being reunited with their money.
â€œThis incident further demonstrates how hard weâ€™re working to make the county a hostile place for anyone involved in phone scams. Whilst the public should be reassured that our staff are highly trained and will be able to quickly assist those who may have been targeted as part of a phone scam, people still need to be aware that the scams are operating.
â€œIf people are suspicious about a telephone conversation then they should end the call and contact police via the non-emergency number, 101. They should remember to use a mobile phone or a friendâ€™s phone or wait at least five minutes before calling to ensure they arenâ€™t reconnected to the offender.
â€œPlease also remember that your bank and the police would:
â€œI would urge all taxi and courier firms to contact the police straight via the non-emergency number should they become suspicious after being asked to collect a package, which could contain bank cards or money, from an elderly person.
â€œFurther information and advice around phone scams can be found on our website:Â www.herts.police.uk/PhoneScamsâ€