A pair of suspected courier fraudsters have been arrested after police intercepted the alleged conmen as they made their way to a potential victim’s home.

Police officers in Durham became aware that a vehicle, believed to be involved in several courier fraud incidents in the region, had been spotted driving in the Darlington area.

Traffic officers managed to surround the vehicle, causing it to stop, and two 30-year-old men were arrested at the scene.

After detectives from Durham Constabulary attended the home of one elderly victim, they found her waiting with about £4,500 in cash to hand over to the so-called couriers.

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Officers from North East Regional Organised Crime Unit (NEROCU), Durham Constabulary and Northumbria Police, worked together to bring the suspects to a halt as they travelled from Darlington towards Sedgefield.

The arrests come after a spate of courier fraud reports across the North East – with at least 24 incidents over recent weeks reported.

As part of the scam, known as courier fraud, fraudsters call people on the phone claiming to be police officers, often detectives, from police forces across the country.

NEROCU Detective Sergeant Gillian Coulson said: “Remember these criminals are experts in manipulating people and copying the methods of communication used by banks, HMRC, the police and other reputable organisations to appear legitimate.

“They prey on people’s vulnerabilities and fears, exploiting this and profiting from it. The best thing people can do is assume any correspondence or cold-calls are fake.

“If you do find yourself a victim then please report it. You will never be judged and shouldn’t feel embarrassed. These criminals are master manipulators who use complex and well thought out tactics to trick people.”

The incidents have seen elderly residents in the Peterlee, Seaham and Durham areas targeted, as well as victims across the North East in Hexham and wider Northumberland.

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Detective Inspector Darren Wild, from East Durham CID, added: “Fraudsters who commit these types of offences often prey on elderly and vulnerable people, and we’d urge people to speak to their neighbours and relatives and warn them of scams of this nature.

“Please reassure them that the police or any other reputable organisation will never ask you to withdraw cash, nor will they ever ask you for your bank account details.

“They will also never ask you to confirm any personal details over the phone.

“If you’re unsure a call is genuine, please end the call and contact a family member or trusted individual.”

  • If you think you’ve been targeted by a fraudster, report it to police on 101, or Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.