Two people have been arrested after police intercepted the suspected conmen en route to a victim’s home.

Officers in Durham received reports that a vehicle - thought to be involved in several courier fraud incidents in the region - was in the Darlington area on Thursday (August 31) afternoon.

The suspects are believed to have orchestrated a scam, known as courier fraud, where fraudsters call people on the phone claiming to be police officers, often detectives, from police forces across the country.

The conmen then go on to tell the person to withdraw money from their bank account which will then be collected from their home by a courier.

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The arrests have been made as part of a region-wide police operation, involving officers from North East Regional Organised Crime Unit (NEROCU), Durham Constabulary and Northumbria Police.

Officers from NEROCU identified the suspects' vehicle in the Darlington area and officers were immediately deployed and tracked the vehicle as it drove north towards Sedgefield.

Police cars surrounded the vehicle, causing it to stop, and two 30-year-old men were arrested at the scene.

After detectives from Durham Constabulary intervened and attended the home of one elderly victim, they found her waiting with around £4,500 in cash to hand over.

The men were taken to police custody where they are currently being questioned by detectives.

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

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.

NEROCU Detective Sergeant Gillian Coulson said: “This has been an outstanding piece of partnership working by NEROCU, Durham and Northumbria Police. This is yet again another example of our commitment under Operation Sentinel to tackle Serious and Organised Crime as a united front in the North East.

“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.

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“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.”

Detective Inspector Darren Wild, from East Durham CID, added: “This was an excellent piece of teamwork by officers from across the region including Durham’s control room, roads policing, intelligence officers and CID to detain two men in connection with these incidents.

“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.

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“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 us on 101, or Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.