Taxi drivers helped foil a group of fraudsters who have been targeting elderly victims with a phone scam.
Ace Taxis general manager Sahid Khan first became suspicious when he received a call on Friday, February 28 – and he received another call from the crooks yesterday afternoon.
The woman on the other end of the line asked him to pick up a package and gave him the postcode of where to collect it from.
He got the road name up, but when he said: “That’s in Northchurch, isn’t it?” she said: “I do not know what area it’s in.”
She told him a computer card was in the package and to take it to a business centre in London. The card used to pay for the journey was registered to the same address it would be collected from.
He phoned police, who later arrested two people.
The second dodgy phone call came into his firm in Northridge Road, Berkhamsted, at about 4pm yesterday.
By that time, police had been leafleting taxi operators about the scam. The caller asked for a taxi to travel from a Potten End home – to which the card paying for the journey was registered – to a north west London address.
Mr Khan asked the caller if he would be making the journey, and there was a pause before he said no.
When the vehicle was about to arrive, the caller rang again. He said: “Actually, I am not travelling – all you have got to do is pick up a package and bring it to me.”
Mr Khan rang police, who did not catch the fraudsters – but victim Terry Blyth, 72, and his wife got their cards back.
Terry said: “We have recently been snared by a major fraud scam.
“Thankfully due to the absolutely superb attention to detail by Ace Taxis, our loss and considerable inconvenience was quite dramatically curtailed.
“They spotted a key piece of potential evidence and their speedy contact with the police, and then the equally speedy and quality reaction of the police was just fantastic.
“If we could can follow their efforts society would be much richer.”
On certain phones, if one person hangs up but the other doesn’t, when the one who did tries to use the phone again, the other person is still there.
A scammer can use this trick fool the person into giving police instructions to sending credit and debit cards to a certain address. A genuine professional would never do this.
If you think a scammer may be targeting you, phone a friend or family member whose voice you would recognise or wait five minutes before using the phone again.
Det Insp Jason Keane said: “Staff at Berkhamsted’s Ace Taxis received calls on two separate occasions from people involved in phone scams.
“The taxi firm were asked to organise the collection of packages, which contained bank cards and money, from two addresses in the town.
“Unhappy with the request and being aware of the phone scam, the staff rightly contacted the police who were in turn able to prevent the frauds.
“I would like to praise the taxi firm’s role in preventing these crimes, which have a devastating effect on the victims who are often vulnerable and elderly.
“I would urge all taxi and courier firms to follow this example of contacting the police immediately, should they become suspicious after being asked to collect a package, which could contain bank cards or money, from an elderly person.
“Contact with the police should be made straight away via the non-emergency number 101.
“We will continue to find those who are involved with phone scams and courier fraud and bring them to justice, but people need to be aware that these types of scams are still happening.”
Police advice is to:
- NEVER ask for your PIN number over the phone.
- NEVER ask you to withdraw money and send it to them via a courier or any other means.
- NEVER ask you to send your bank cards and other personal belongings to them via a courier or any other means.
Mr Keane said: “If you receive a call you aren’t expecting, you should be suspicious.
“If you are not happy with what is being said in the conversation you should end the call and if you do suspect the call was part of a scam please call police via the non-emergency number 101.
“Remember to use a mobile phone or wait at least five minutes before calling to ensure you aren’t reconnected to the caller.
“A legitimate caller won’t mind you verifying their identity by contacting the police.”