Detectives have released CCTV vision and are appealing for public information following reports of an elaborate phone and credit card fraud targeting elderly residents across Sydney.
Police have received reports from victims across Sydney including Castle Hill, Penshurst, Rushcutters Bay, Allawah and Sans Souci, who have been scammed of personal information and large quantities of money between December 2019 and January 2020.
Investigators have been told that initial contact is made through a phone call from someone speaking with a foreign accent.
The caller purports to be from a bank and advises that fraudulent transactions have been made on the victim’s credit cards.
The victim is then encouraged to provide their personal information on the phone, or to physically provide identification documents to a courier, who arrives at their home address shortly after.
In one incident, an 85-year-old woman from Penshurst, received a phone call from a woman with an Indian accent claiming to be from a bank about 2pm on Wednesday 18 December 2019.
The caller claimed the woman’s bank account had been accessed in South Africa and that $900 had been taken from her account.
To recover her funds, the caller requested the woman place her personal information details into an envelope and provide to a male courier who arrived at the home a short time later.
The incident was reported to officers from St George Police Area Command the following day, after more than $11,000 in fraudulent transactions had been made.
In a separate incident, an 86-year-old man from Castle Hill received a phone call on Friday 3 January 2020, from a woman purporting to be from a bank and told to provide his credit card information.
The incident was reported to officers from The Hills Police Area Command the following day, after nearly $5,000 in fraudulent transaction were made.
Failed attempts to transfer another $10,000 were also flagged and brought to the attention of police.
Initial inquiries suggest the incidents may be linked and as investigations continue, detectives have released CCTV images of two men they believe may be able to assist.
Both men are described as being of Indian Sub-Continental appearance, aged in their early to mid-20’s, with black hair and black facial hair.
One man is depicted in the images as wearing a blue t-shirt with a red pattern, blue jeans and black sneakers with white soles. He was also carrying a black backpack and wearing black headphones.
The second man is depicted in the images as wearing a black shirt with a pattern, a white backpack and a black cap.
Financial Crimes Squad Commander, Detective Superintendent Linda Howlett, said the calls appear to be targeted, preying on the vulnerability of older Australians.
“The community should be wary of any requests for personal financial information or payments over the phone,” Det Supt Howlett said.
“As our detectives continue to investigate these incidents, we would encourage everyone to remain vigilant, and to share these warnings with their parents and grandparents who may not be aware of this scam.
“Fraud is theft by deception and often you won’t know it’s happened until it is too late.
“Do not be afraid to ask the right questions – what is the person’s name and what company do they represent. Your best defence against scams is to hang up the phone and report the incident,” Det Supt Howlett said.
The public are reminded to take the following precautions to reduce the risk of being scammed by cold-callers:
- If you receive a threatening phone call (and demanding money), hang up immediately;
- Do not disclose personal details to the caller;
- Never provide your personal or banking details to a person who calls you;
- Never provide your financial PIN or account passwords to anyone;
- Do not make any payments to the caller, either via phone, internet, or cash;
- If you are suspicious about the credentials of a person on the phone, ask questions of them. If they avoid answering or refuse to provide information, hang up;
- Don’t let scammers pressure you – scammers use detailed scripts to convince you that they’re the real deal and create a high-pressure situation to make a decision on the spot;
- If you think you have provided your account details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately; and
- Contact police immediately to report the incident.
Anyone with information about this incident is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000 or https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au. Information is treated in strict confidence.