Wiltshire Police are backing a national campaign aimed at tackling courier fraud, which involves victims being conned into handing over credit cards and PIN details.
Two victims in Wiltshire have lost a total of £6,000 between tham and 17 offences have bee recorded in the county.
Now the South West Regional Fraud Team - in conjunction with five regional forces including Wiltshire - is targeting those behind the the offences.
Fraudsters have been calling and tricking people into handing cards and PIN numbers to couriers on their doorstep.
The region has been particularly targeted by unscrupulous fraudsters who are preying on vulnerable elderly people, some of whom have been duped out of thousands of pounds during the past two months.
The perpetrators first contact potential victims by telephone, purporting to be police officers.
The victims are then encouraged by the fraudster to withdraw large sums of cash and asked to send it to London by taxi or via a courier, who will collect the money from their home. The culprit claims the money will be used as potential forensic evidence for an investigation.
Another variation involves someone claiming to be a police officer based in London who informs the victim that two people have been arrested and were in the possession of the bank details of the victim. The victim is then asked to phone the bogus officer back.
Because the fraudster does not hang up their phone, the unsuspecting victim speaks to them and is encouraged to provide private banking details and may also be asked to withdraw cash.
The number of people who have been targeted in the region, covering Wiltshire, Avon and Somerset, Devon and Cornwall, Dorset and Gloucestershire Police, has now topped 130.
Around nine out of the 10 people who have been targeted are aged 60 or over. Thousands of pounds of cash have been taken – in one case £40,000 was handed over.
Detective Sergeant Jon Lee, head of complex fraud at Wiltshire Police, said: “It is difficult to know exactly how widespread this problem is but we are keen to catch the perpetrators as soon as possible.
"It is possible that some victims may feel too embarrassed, ashamed or humiliated to come forward.
"I would urge anyone who thinks they have been a victim of this crime to contact Wiltshire Police or Action Fraud immediately as we are able to offer the correct advice and support.
“The police and the banks will never ask you for your personal details or PIN numbers over the phone. Similarly, they would never send a so-called ‘courier’ to collect bank cards or money.
“If you have elderly and vulnerable relatives, neighbours, colleagues and friends, I would urge you to warn them of this particular crime.
“We are also appealing to taxi owners to be vigilant, especially if asked to courier small packages to London for elderly people.”
From today, a series of posters and leaflets warning people to be aware of courier fraud are being sent out across the region.
They reaffirm the message that banks and/or the police will not ask for your PIN number over the phone and will not send a courier to collect cash.
To report this or any other type of fraud or attempted fraud, contact Action Fraud via www.actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.
The South West breakdown of reported courier fraud offences:
Wiltshire: 17 offences recorded. Two victims lost £6,000.
Avon and Somerset: 15 offences recorded. One victim lost £34,000
Devon and Cornwall: 90 offences recorded. One victim lost £40,000
Dorset: 68 offences recorded. One victim lost £28,000.
Gloucestershire: 21 offences recorded. Several thousand pounds lost by a victim.