POLICE in Bridgwater are supporting a campaign to warn people about the threat of courier fraud.

Zephyr, a regional unit tackling organised crime, has created a publicity campaign to warn people of “unscrupulous fraudsters” who have been targeting the South-West.

Sgt Chris Walls, of Bridgwater Police, said: “The criminals are preying on vulnerable elderly people, some of whom have been duped out of thousands of pounds during the past two months.

“While there have been no offences of this kind in Bridgwater, we are urging people to be vigilant.”

The number of people who have been targeted in the West Country has now topped 200, with 15 incidents in Avon and Somerset alone; including one case where a victim lost £34,000.

DCI Will White of Zephyr said: “We would like to hear from these people, so that we can establish how widespread this particular crime is and so that support and advice can be provided.”

The perpetrators contact potential victims by telephone and encourage them to send large sums of cash to London by taxi or via a courier, who will collect the money from them.

The culprit claims the money is potential evidence for an investigation and needs to be forensically examined.

Another scam involves someone claiming to be a police officer in London, who tells the victim that two people have been arrested. When arrested they had in their possession bank cards which contained details of the victim. The victim is asked to provide private banking details and may also be asked to withdraw cash.

DCI White confirmed: “The police and the banks will never ask you for banking details or PIN numbers on the phone or send a so-called ‘courier’ to collect bank cards or money.”