Police are advising caution after a woman in her 80s in Gravesend had £15,000 stolen by a fraudster posing as a police officer.

The victim was targeted via phone calls by the fraudulent man, and when she tried to phone Kent Police the offender intercepted the call and used this against her.

Chief inspector Neil Loudon, Kent Police’s district commander for North Kent said: ‘Sadly we hear of crimes of this type and those targeted are often some of the most vulnerable people in our community.

"A police force will never ask a member of the public for their bank details or money over the phone, nor would a force ever ask anyone to visit their bank and withdraw money before handing it over."

The victim, a woman in her 80s, received a phone call on April 24 from the offender who claimed that her niece needed her to bail her out before she could be released from custody.

The pensioner became suspicious and phoned 101 to report her concerns.

But the call did not get through to Kent Police. It is believed the offender kept her phone line open to intercept any calls to officers.

The victim went on to receive another fraudulent call claiming the police officer who phoned up about her niece was genuine.

The initial bogus police officer then called and told her to withdraw £5,000, which the woman did at her bank and handed it over to a courier.

The woman was twice asked to do this again on April 27 and 28, and was twice met by the same courier who took the money away.

Chief Inspector Loudon advised that if you receive one of these calls, end it immediately and wait at least five minutes before using your telephone to allow your line to clear from the scammer.

"If you are reading this and have vulnerable friends and family who are not on social media, or who have internet access, please do share this information with them so they are aware."

Further advice

  • Never hand over any money, or other items, to a courier after receiving this type of call.
  • If you are not confident a person claiming to be a police officer is genuine, ask to take their details and then end the call.
  • If you can, use a different phone to the one you received the original call on to report the matter to the police on 101, or 999 in an emergency. Wait for at least five minutes for the call to clear. A police call handler will be able to verify whether your caller was genuine.
  • Alternatively, contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. You can also report suspicious activity online by visiting: http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud
  • The matter can also be reported to Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.