POLICE have released at e-fit of a man they want to speak to after three elderly victims were defrauded out of thousands of pounds by people posing as specialist detectives.

The first incident took place on Friday, January 18 and saw a 67-year-old woman from Wickford called by a man claiming to be an officer investigating a fraud at a bank.

He ordered her to withdraw thousands of pounds.

She went to her bank, withdrew the money and handed it over to a courier who arrived later.

Three days later police were contacted by a 77-year-old woman from Southminster who also withdrew thousands of pounds and was told to hand it to a courier.

Between Tuesday, February 5 and Wednesday, February 6, an 85-year-old woman from Witham transferred thousands of pounds to the fraudsters on two occasions.

She also give this cash to the courier.

Police are linking the three incidents.

The courier has been described as black, aged in his late 20s to early 30s and wore black clothing.

On one occasion he wore a black long wrinkled coat and on another occasion a black baseball cap.

DS Liz Morgan, from the Serious Economic Crime Unit, said: “These are despicable crimes where elderly people are being targeted.

“The total loss to the victims reached a five-figure sum and one woman was taken poorly to hospital due to the impact of the crime.

“The suspects pretended to be police officers and pressured the victims into acting urgently and do as instructed.

“They convinced the victims that their savings were not safe and they needed help.

“The women were then told to withdraw or transfer their savings to safeguard it and tell the victim to lie to the bank if the transaction is queried by bank staff.

“The effect of these crimes is devastating to victims and their families."

Police have now issued advice for anyone contacted about money matters out of the blue.

* Your bank or the police will never telephone you to ask you your personal details, passwords, PIN number or ask to collect your card by courier. They will never ask you to withdraw money for a courier to collect or to transfer money. Hang up if you get a call like this;

* If you need to call your bank back to check, wait five minutes, fraudsters may stay on the line after you hang up. Ensure a dialling tone can be heard. Alternatively, use a different line altogether to call your bank;

* Don’t let a stranger take your bank cards or money from you.

For more advice about bogus callers visit: https://www.essex.police.uk/advice/bogus-callers/ or https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/a-z-of-fraud/courier-fraud.

Anyone information about bogus callers should call Essex Police on 101 or report information by visiting www.essex.police.uk/do-it-online.

Alternatively information can be passed to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 55 111 or people can call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 to report the fraud.