THE public are being warned to be alert to a growing scam in which criminals pose as police and ask victims to take part in a fake undercover operation.
UK Finance said fraudsters were contacting people, usually by phone, purporting to be from the police or, in some cases, the fraud team within their bank.
A spokesman for UK Finance said: “The criminal claims they are investigating a fraud at a local bank branch where staff are suspected of being complicit, including issuing fake bank notes, and asks their target to help in the operation.
“As part of the scam, the individual is requested to visit the branch and withdraw a substantial sum, often thousands of pounds, of the supposedly counterfeit cash to hand over to the ‘police’ for ‘analysis’.
“The victim is assured that the money will be deposited back into their account after the operation is complete.
“However, once the money is passed over the fraudster disappears with the cash.”
In another version of the scam, the criminal convinces the victim to transfer money to a ‘safe account’ to protect their funds from the ‘corrupt’ bank staff, he added, but the account is in fact controlled by the criminal.
Katy Worobec, head of fraud and financial crime prevention, cyber and data sharing at UK Finance, said: “This is a particularly nasty scam as it plays on people’s public-spirited nature to assist the police.
“We are receiving a growing number of reports of it occurring, with people often losing large amounts of money, so it’s vital that everyone is aware.
“Remember, the police will never ask you to withdraw money and hand it over to them for safe-keeping.”
Advice to consumers on how to avoid this scam:
• The police will never ask you to become part of an undercover investigation or for you to withdraw cash and hand it to them for safe-keeping.
• Be wary of any calls, texts or emails purporting to be from the police asking for your personal or financial details, or for you to transfer money.
• If you are approached, or feel something is suspicious, hang up the phone and don’t reply. Then report it to Action Fraud and your bank on their advertised number.
Visit takefive-stopfraud.org.uk for more advice on how to stay safe from scams.