RESIDENTS are being warned of bogus police officers who are calling up and tricking people into withdrawing large sums of cash.

Hampshire police say fraudsters have been targeting homes across Hampshire with a scam that involves a person phoning a victim and pretending to be a police officer from the Metropolitan Police area. They then state they are investigating a fraud and request their victims to withdraw a significant quantity of cash from their bank accounts.

To reassure that they are genuine, they suggest the victim hangs up the phone and rings the bank or police back straight away.

But they do not disconnect the call from their end.

That means when the victim dials the number for the police or bank, they are actually still speaking to the fraudster who then ask the victim to withdraw thousands of pounds from their account.

A courier is then sent to collect it. Yet police say they never ask anyone to hand over money and are urging people not withdraw or give any money to anyone.

Winchester had initially been targeted but the scammers have widened their net across the county.

To date, three people have been arrested in connection with these incidents however the offences are still continuing and the investigation is ongoing. Chief Inspector Darius Hemmatpour, district commander for Winchester, said: “I am appealing for anyone who may have already been contacted by anyone purporting to be a police officer and asking for money to contact us on 101 to report this activity.

“As many of the victims are elderly I would ask that anyone with elderly friends or family members living in Winchester to please make them aware of this scam.

“This type of fraud against vulnerable people is cruel and swift. The key message is never to give your card to anyone, never give your PIN to anyone, and never agree to visit your bank to take out cash if someone calls you to tell you there is a problem with your bank account.

“If you are telephoned, hang up, wait five minutes and call the police on 101, or your bank on the telephone number provided on your card, not a number you have been given over the telephone. Ensure there is a dial tone on your phone first before you call, or better still, call from a friend's house or mobile. This is because the telephone line sometimes remains open as the person who called you does not hang up, and you are still connected to the person trying to trick you.

“Your local police officer or PCSO can talk to you about this, or you can visit the Action Fraud website or call them for more information about staying as safe as possible. “Please share this message with older or vulnerable family and friends.”

Hampshire Constabulary offers the following advice: Never give out any personal information about your bank account to anybody over the phone.

• If someone calls claiming to be a police officer, ask for their identification number and police force.

• Hang up the call and advise that you will call them back using the 101 number.

• A genuine police officer will not mind waiting while you check.

• Call them back from a different phone if possible or wait at least 10 minutes before making the call. If you have given out information which could compromise your bank account security in any way, call your bank up to cancel your cards as soon as possible.

• Never hand over money to someone at the door to be sent off elsewhere.

• If someone comes to your door claiming to be a police officer or staff member, always ask for identification and make a note of their identification number.

• Ask them to wait while you verify their identity.

• Close the door and call 101.

Anyone who is concerned about similar incidents or has information relating to this report should contact police by calling 101. If a crime is in progress, please call 999.