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Article by Brentwood Gazette: Billericay residents have been targeted by fraudsters posing as police officers this week although the conmen were foiled in their attempts to steal money.

The bogus officers are believed to be connected to organised crime gangs who have stolen nearly £500,000 in Essex since the telephone scams started in February 2013.

However the fraudulent callers failed to obtain funds from any of their three Billericay targets who were contacted on Tuesday October 21 and the following day.

The first victim was called on Tuesday by a man claiming to be Det Chief Insp Freeman from the Metropolitan Police fraud squad. He told the victim there had been fraudulent activity on their bank account and instructed them to phone the bank then the police.

The fraudsters withheld their first call and then pretended to be bank officials and police officers to reinforce the first caller’s claim. However the scam backfired when the victim called the real officers at Essex Police HQ who confirmed the call was a fraud.

On Wednesday a Billericay woman was called by a man claiming to be DCI Freeman who said her bank manager had been arrested overnight and that she had to urgently withdraw all her savings from her account for forensic tests.

The woman went to the bank to check her account and then reported the matter to police officers at Billericay.

The final scam involved a fraudster calling himself Inspector Bruce Robinson from the Met telling a man he had been a victim of a bank fraud and that he needed to withdraw £8,000 which had to be checked for fingerprints.

Although the victim withdrew the money they became concerned that it was a scam and called Essex Police who sent a car to his address.

The victim was called again by the fraudster who said an officer was in the way to collect the £8,000. A minute later a genuine officer arrived. There was no sign of the fake officer and the money was safely returned to the bank.

[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Investigating officer Pc Sam Rayner"]These crimes have been going on in Essex since February 2013 and the thieves are very convincing and use a range of different stories to trick people. The three people in Billericay were lucky not to have been fooled into handing over a great deal of money. The man who took the £8,000 out of his bank was the luckiest of all. He became suspicious then had another call from the thieves. One of our officers arrived very soon afterwards to ensure that the man’s money did not fall into the wrong hands.[/quote]

Article by Josh Nicholls, Brentwood Gazette

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