A 96-YEAR-OLD victim was conned out of thousands of pounds by con men pretending to be police detectives on the telephone.

Elderly and vulnerable residents in Sussex have reported as many as 35 attempted frauds so far this month.

Police say one pensioner was conned out of £7,900, and the fraudsters have managed to escape with £24,800 in total this month.

The news emerges as concerns grow about pensioners being targeted by criminal gangs.

But the police say that with help from bank staff, they have stopped the criminals taking £63,500 and thwarted 29 of the 35 reported cases.

Now others are being warned to watch out for the fake police detectives, with those at risk being told not to tell anyone their bank card details.

They say the fraudsters have pretended to be Detective Chief Inspector Richard Harrison, but this officer does not exist.

During telephone calls the fraudsters then put pressure on the victims by alleging there has been an unauthorised use of a debit or credit card, and claim someone has been arrested.

Then victims are required to supply their PIN or other card details, are hand them over a a courier who arrives at their door.

PC Bernadette Lawrie said: “Remember - no police officer, or bank staff on the phone, will ever ask for your bank details or for cash. Don’t give your details or cash to anyone in these circumstances!

“Six of the attempts failed due to the good work of bank staff, using the nationally agreed police/banking protocol which has trained bank staff in how to spot the signs of this type of crime.”

Police say that there have been 198 incidents across Sussex this year, and said that in 59 cases the conmen successfully fleeced their victims.

The total loss to those handing over their details this year is £458,209.

Advice to the elderly and vulnerable has been issued. Police say residents should act with care if they get a telephone call from someone they don’t know.

They should never transfer funds from their account to an unexpected caller. Make sure a telephone line has properly disconnected before making another call, and try to call a good friend or family member.

Never share a PIN number or enter a PIN number into the telephone, never withdraw money to hand to a courier or police office, and never hand over bank cards to someone at the door.

Have you been affected by a bogus calls scam in Sussex? Share your story. Email the crime reporter aidan.barlow@theargus.co.uk or add him on Facebook Aidan Barlow Argus.