We are warning people, particularly the elderly, to be wary of a growing fraud in which criminals pose as police officers and ask their victims to take part in a fake undercover operation. Seventeen offences have been reported to us with two losses totalling approximately £20,000. Four further reports were reported directly to Action Fraud but did not report a loss. Fraudsters are contacting the public, usually by phone, claiming to be from the police, or in some cases their bank’s fraud team. They claim they are investigating a fraud at a local bank branch where staff are suspected of being complicit, including issuing fake bank notes, and ask their target to help in the operation. As part of the fraud, the individual is asked to visit their bank and withdraw a large sum, often thousands of pounds, of the supposedly counterfeit cash to hand over to the ‘police’ for analysis. The victim is assured that the money will be put back into their account after the operation is complete. However, once the money is passed over the fraudster disappears with the cash.

Detective Inspector Rob Harvmann, of the force’s Fraud and Financial Investigation Unit said: “Fraudsters will use whatever way they can to get people to believe in them. Impersonating a bank official or a police officer reinforces that belief. “It’s important to remember neither the bank nor the police will cold call you asking you to act on their behalf. Be vigilant, do not engage in conversation, put the phone down and tell someone you trust. If you have been a victim of such a fraud and you have handed money to someone, please contact 101 or Action Fraud.” • The police will never ask you to become part of an undercover investigation or for you to withdraw cash and hand it to them for safe-keeping. • Be wary of any calls, texts or emails purporting to be from the police asking for your personal or financial details, or for you to transfer money.