PEOPLE across the county are being warned to beware a devious phone scam in which the fraudsters impersonate both police and bank staff.
Residents in Cheltenham and the Cotswolds have been targeted recently and Gloucester Constabulary is particularly keen to raise awareness ahead of the weekend, when most of the calls are made.
While there are slight variations to the method, the scam involves the fraudster phoning a victim, informing them they are a police officer and that their bank card has been cloned and then urging them to put the phone down and immediately call their bank to report it.
In a particularly cruel twist the fraudsters then stay on the line so that when the victim thinks they have called the bank they are in fact still connected to the criminals.
Another fraudster involved in the scam, now pretending to be from the bank, then encourages the victim to disclose their personal details before "transferring" them back to the fake police officer.
The criminals then arrange for a courier to collect the victim's cards from their address.
Once that happens, the fraudsters have everything they need to withdraw thousands from the victim's account.
Crime Reduction Advisor Kim Mowday said: "This is an extremely cruel MO that is sadly being used by criminals throughout the country to make thousands of pounds.
"It's happening most often at the weekend because when the criminals get the cards they often have a couple of days to use them before the victims make contact with their bank and realise they have been duped. "One of the key things about this scam is that the offenders say a lot of things that are intended to win your trust, so it is very easy for people to get drawn in.
"They might ask the caller to type their bank card number into the phone for instance, claiming that will make it safe, when in reality they have a device that can be used to decipher the number at the other end.
"We would simply ask people in our communities to share the following message to everyone they know, particularly if they are vulnerable: The police will NEVER ask you to send any items via courier and the banks will NEVER ask for your personal details, whether that's over the phone or via email.
"If you get a call like this hang up, even disconnect the phone before ringing 101 and reporting the incident.
"If you do fall victim to the initial part of the scam let us know straight away and don't hand anything over to the courier."
For more crime prevention advice, please log onto gloucestershire.police.uk