Appeal following phone scam in Sherborne

Alert message sent 16/12/2020 11:19:00

Information sent on behalf of Dorset Alert


Detectives investigating an incident where an elderly woman from Sherborne was scammed out of thousands of pounds are appealing for anyone with information to come forward.

It comes after several other incidents were reported in other parts of Dorset and officers are urging the public to remain vigilant.

The victim received a phone call at around 10.45am on Monday 7 December 2020 from a man claiming to be from the police who told her £11,000 had been taken from her account.

He then put her onto another man claiming to be the officer’s sergeant who asked her to go into the bank and ask to withdraw £7,000.

The woman went into the bank, but was only able to get out £2,000 and she was called again at around 1pm that day by who she believed to be the sergeant. She told him she had only got £2,000 and he asked for the serial numbers of some of the notes.

The man told her he had arranged for insurance on the victim’s bank accounts and informed her that some of the notes were forgeries. He said he was arranging for an officer in plain clothes and an unmarked car to come and collect the notes.

Between 3pm and 4pm a man came to her home in Lenthay Road and parked outside in a white van. He is described as being aged in his early 20s, of slim build and clean shaven. The man collected the money and left. 

At around 10am the following day she received another call from the man who had called himself a sergeant, who asked her to go to the bank again and ask for £6,000 or £7,000.

She was only able to withdraw £2,000 again and a man arrived to collect the money during the afternoon while it was still light. The victim could not be certain if it was the same man as the day before, but he was similar in appearance.

The following day, Wednesday 9 December, she received a further call from a man claiming to be a detective superintendent who asked her to go to the bank and transfer £17,500 into an account he gave the details for. He gave her a story to tell the bank about transferring some of her inheritance to a relative.

The victim advised him that the Sherborne branch was closed that day and he told her to go to Dorchester and offered to pay for the taxi fare.

The next day she received phone calls from her bank raising concern about the transfer of the money. They told her they had not paid it yet and they had stopped the transaction.

On Friday 11 December the man claiming to be a detective superintendent called again and told her to return to Dorchester and withdraw £7,000. Again he offered to pay the taxi fare.

When the victim went to withdraw the cash on this occasion the bank contacted the police and officers came and spoke to her.

The victim subsequently realised she had been scammed. She had handed over a total of £4,000 over to the conmen. 

Last week it was also reported that two people in Bridport handed over a total of £10,700 to fraudsters in similar incidents on Wednesday 9 December 2020 and a third incident was reported in Crossways on Thursday 10 December 2020, where the victim lost a total of £6,000.

Detective Constable Holly Spillman, of Weymouth CID, said: “We are investigating this series of scam calls and I am appealing to anyone who was in the area of Lenthay Road in Sherborne on the afternoon of Monday 7 December or Tuesday 8 December 2020 and witnessed any suspicious activity, the man or vehicle described, to please contact us.

“I would also urge anyone with dashcam who was driving in the area or residents with home CCTV systems to check their footage for anything relevant.

“This victim was repeatedly targeted by these heartless scammers, she lost a significant amount of money and it could have been even more.

“We would like to remind everyone that neither police officers or your bank will ask you to withdraw money to be collected. They will also not ask for your PIN number. If you are in any doubt, hang up and call your bank directly. 

“We are also asking people to speak to their elderly loved ones or neighbours about this scam to raise awareness so that no one else becomes a victim.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact Dorset Police at www.dorset.police.uk, via email 101@dorset.pnn.police.uk or by calling 101, quoting occurrence number 55200186260. Alternatively, to stay 100 per cent anonymous, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers online at Crimestoppers-uk.org or call Freephone 0800 555 111.
Message sent by
Julie Heath (Dorset Police, Neighbourhood Alert Officer, Dorset)

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