THE MET police is cracking down on sophisticated 'courier fraud' scams which often leave elderly victims out of pocket.

Courier Fraud Awareness Day was launched by the capital's force today (Wednesday), to highlight the convincing methods used by ruthless fraudsters.

Figures for this type of offence in Hillingdon are amongst the lowest in London, but 18 people have still fallen victim to such a scam in the two years up to December 2012.

The scam involves the criminal posing as an authority concerned with fraud - the police or a bank - and calling the victim to tell them their bank account has been accessed and their card must be collected.

The unsuspecting person is lulled into a false sense of security by being urged to hang up and phone back on a genuine number to check the legitimacy of the call, unaware that the criminal has kept the line open and gives confirmation.

The person is then asked to reveal their PIN number, and put their card in an envelope to be collected by a courier or cab. Their bank account is then emptied.

It is believed that organised criminal groups are largely behind these frauds.

Safer Neighbourhoods Teams (SNTs) across London are busy informing people about the tell-tale signs, and urging people to never to give up their PIN numbers.

While this type of fraud is not as common in Hillingdon than in other areas of London, neighbouring boroughs Harrow and Ealing have fared worse, with 60 and 75 reports respectively in the two year period, and there were 93 frauds in Brent, the ninth highest in London.

Camden topped the list with 260 reports, 66 more than second place Barnet.

In all, there were 2,229 reports of courier fraud in the two-year period. Most were elderly, with victims aged from 17 to 110.

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