Police say criminals pretending to be police officers are attempting to defraud vulnerable residents in the county, in a scam known as ‘courier fraud’.

Detective inspector Emma Wright from West Mercia Police, said: “This type of fraud traditionally targets older, vulnerable people however cases reported in the last 24 hours would suggest the criminals are targeting a broader range of ages.

“Courier fraud is an especially cruel type of fraud that sees vulnerable people prayed on by criminals.

“Victims are telephoned by a person, pretending to be a police officer. The bogus police officer explains that the victim’s bank accounts are under threat from fraudsters.

"He or she convinces the victim to participate in a fictitious undercover police operation to catch the fraudsters and safeguard their funds. They are told not to inform anyone, including their bank, as bank staff are equally under suspicion.

"Often the bogus police officer discloses private financial information about the victim, which is used to encourage the victim to trust them.

“The people are operating as part of organised crime gangs. They are ruthless, extremely convincing and extremely successful and these scams net millions of pounds a year for them."

Anyone concerned about this type of crime can call police on 101, or, in an emergency, telephone 999.