Sussex Police are supporting a national warning of a police banking scam after more than £400,000 was stolen from people in the county.

There were 114 cases in the county this year up to September, 47 of which were successful.

Police said 96 per cent of victims were over 60, while over half lived alone.

The scam involves fraudsters contacting victims, posing as police officers, and asking them to withdraw large amounts of money from their account as part of an undercover operation.

The victim is reportedly assured the money will be deposited back into their account after the operation is complete, but the fraudster then disappears with the cash.

PC Bernadette Lawrie said:

“This is a particularly nasty scam as it plays on people’s public-spirited nature to assist the police.

“We are receiving a growing number of reports of it occurring, with people often losing large amounts of money, so it’s vital that everyone is aware.

“Remember, the police will never ask you to withdraw money and hand it over to them for safe-keeping.

“The good news is that of 114 attempts in Sussex, more than half failed, thanks to the increasing awareness of local residents, and to shop and bank staff who recognise the tell-tale signs of this type of fraudulent activity, and are blocking purchases and contacting the police.”

The national warning came from UK Finance, a trade association representing the finance and banking industry on Wednesday (November, 29).

Police said victims are also being convinced to transfer money to a so-called ‘safe account’ to protect funds, but this account is controlled by the criminal.

Officers said neither police or banks will ask members of the public to take part in an anti-fraud operation.