A TAUNTON woman has been scammed out of thousands of pounds by a fraudster posing as a police officer.

The victim, who lives in the Comeytrowe area of the county town, was phoned up by a conman claiming to be from the Taunton fraud department.

He even encouraged her to check his credentials by calling 999.

She did so, but did not realise he held he phone line open so that she remained on the call with the crook and did not get through to the Avon and Somerset Police control room.

Believing she was speaking to the police, she agreed to withdraw a large quantity of cash from her bank, including in foreign currency in the belief she was assisting with a criminal investigation.

She was later asked to hand it over to a courier, who would take the bank notes away for analysis after giving her the pre-agreed password.

The courier was described as male, of black heritage, about 5ft 10ins tall, with short black afro-style hair and was wearing all black.

He attended the woman’s address in an estate car at about 6.30pm on Wednesday, January 17.

The courier promised she would get the money back within a few days, but when that date passed she realised it had been a scam and reported what happened.

Enquiries into the incident are ongoing and anyone with information is asked to call police on 101 and quote reference number 5224017297.

An Avon and Somerset Police spokesperson said: "We are ensuring the woman is being supported and receive fraud prevention advice to help her in future."

Five days after that incident, on Monday, January 22, another woman in the town took a phone call from a man pretending to be a detective constable from Taunton Police Station.

He falsely claimed her debit card was being used by someone else.

He said she would hear a bleep and then should dial 999 – in reality the fraudster would hold open the phone line and the woman would not be connected to police but instead would still be talking again with the fraudster or one of their accomplices.

Fortunately, the woman realised it was a scam and told the fraudster she would hang up and go to her local police station to report it.

Fraud protect officer Amy Horrobin said: “No police officer will ever ask you to hand over money, sensitive banking information or valuables to help with any criminal investigation.

“If you are asked to do that by someone claiming to be a police officer, it is 100 per cent a scam. No ifs, no buts.

“These fraudsters are predatory and seek to pressurise potential victims, who want to do their best to help the police. They play on victims’ good nature.

“They will put time and effort into trying to convince you it is legitimate – for example, getting you to check the officer’s name you are given is part of your local police service or a password to give to the courier – but the reality is it is just a part of the scam.

“If you get such a call, telling you ‘police want you to withdraw money’ or hand over valuable items, it is without doubt a fraud attempt and you should not do it.

“We’d advise you hang up the phone. Then report it to Action Fraud either online or by phone – if calling we’d advise to use a different phone or leave it a few minutes and check the fraudster has not left the line open before trying to dial.

“It is really important that such cases are reported because it helps us build up a picture of what is happening so we can try to prevent such fraud attempts being successful in the first place and also follow any lines of enquiry that may be available to identify the perpetrators.”