A courier fraud scam spate has hit south Bucks towns and villages, with fake police officers conning elderly people into handing over their life savings.

Fraudsters have targeted residents in the Chiltern and South Bucks area 10 times in the last month, with the majority of crimes taking place in Beaconsfield.

Some of the distraught victims were convinced to hand over thousands of pounds after being tricked by con artists masquerading as detectives investigating reports of counterfeit notes.

Thames Valley Police are now warning residents to be vigilant against the “despicable” crimes which could continue to be carried out.

In a recent incident, on July 14, an elderly woman from Chalfont St Peter handed over £5,000 after receiving a telephone call from a man claiming to be a police officer.

He told the woman that her bank was producing counterfeit notes and that she needed to go to the branch to withdraw £5,000 in cash.

After getting the money, she telephoned the caller, as requested, and he asked her to read out some of the serial numbers of the notes withdrawn.

At this point, the caller informed her that they were all counterfeit notes and that he would be sending someone over to collect them to take back to 'Scotland Yard' where they would be investigated.

A short time later, a man appeared at her front door and she handed over the cash.

On July 11, another elderly woman from Beaconsfield received a call from a man claiming to be 'Detective Hart' who informed her that there had been suspicious activity on her bank account and she needed to go to her bank.

When she refused to walk to her bank, the man said he would send over a taxi which she declined. Nothing was taken during this incident.

A number of the crimes happened in Beaconsfield.

Days earlier a man also claiming to be ‘Detective Hart’ scammed £10,000 out of an 89-year-old man from Beaconsfield.

In some of the other cases, victims were led to believe that the caller was genuine as they offered a number for them to call them back on, usually '161', a line which had been kept open by the fraudsters.

PC Iain Torbet said: "These are despicable crimes involving the elderly and more vulnerable in our communities.

"The scam is widespread in other areas in Thames Valley and further afield being affected in the same way.

"It is important that people follow suitable crime prevention advice to avoid becoming a victim."

Detectives have now issues a series of reminders on how to avoid fraud, including that police never ask for PIN numbers and will never collect cash from residents.

For more information, visit www.thamesvalley.police.uk