Scam Alert

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There have been a number of reports recently about a man carrying out debit card theft and fraud. The method used is the same across the Met, and there are recent reports from Wandsworth. This has now been reported in #Richmond too, so the police wanted to make the residents aware.

This man approaches older members of the public and tells them that he is having trouble paying for his parking. He asks if they can use their card to pay on his behalf, and tells them that he can then pay them back in cash. When they have inserted their card into the machine, it appears to fail the payment. The card is lost and the man leaves. When the person later checks their bank accounts, they find that large amounts of money have been withdrawn from multiple banks in the area.

It is possible that the card is stolen using sleight of hand, or that it is taken by the machine and then later retrieved by this man. He appears to memorise the pin numbers of these cards and then uses them to make transactions using the stolen cards soon after the event.

The man involved in the incidents in Battersea is thought to be between 30 and 40 years old, of dark-skinned European (i.e. Mediterranean) appearance, with black hair and dark eyes. He is described as 5’7” in height, and was wearing a short black duffel coat, dark trousers and a red scarf. The man in the incident in Richmond was described as a young French man speaking in broken English.

If you see or hear anything which you think might help the police identify or locate this man, you can report it to them online here: https://www.met.police.uk/…/…/something-youve-seen-or-heard/

Please do not feel pressured into paying for someone else’s parking or making any other kind of payment on their behalf using your card. If you are not comfortable with doing so, politely decline and leave. If you see somebody else being pressured to make a payment on someone else’s behalf that they don’t seem comfortable with, ask if they are ok. If something doesn’t seem right, call police.

Our Three Top tips to help prevent you from becoming victim to card fraud are as follows:

1. If your card is retained, report this immediately to your card issuer whilst still at or near the machine. Make sure you store your Card Issuer’s 24hr telephone number in your mobile phone or wallet.

2. If there appears to be anything unusual about the machine, such as signs of tampering, do not use it and report your concerns to the company who operates the machine (i.e. the bank for an ATM or the council for a parking meter).

3. Shield your PIN from criminal cameras or prying eyes. Stand close to the machine and cover the keypad with your wallet, purse or free hand.

You can also download the latest edition of our Little Book of Big Scams, which contains lots of information about the variety of frauds out there and how to avoid falling victim to fraudsters: https://www.met.police.uk/…/fr…/the-little-book-of-big-scams