CONMEN posing as cops have claimed more than £12,000 from vulnerable south Essex residents in a countywide scam.

Three people in south Essex were targeted by the conmen in the fraud that has been rife across Essex since the start of 2013.

A Canvey man in his eighties lost £5,000 on Wednesday, January 15, a Leigh man in his nineties was tricked out of the same amount on Tuesday, January 21 and a Westcliff woman in her seventies had £2,000 stolen on Thursday.

In all three cases the victims received telephone calls from men who claimed to be Metropolitan Police officers investigating bank account fraud.

The victims were asked to give their bank cards or cash to be used for forensic evidence and they were later collected by couriers using local cab firms.

Det Sgt Neil Hudson said: “Some elderly people are still being tricked by these despicable thieves, so it is important everyone is always on guard against any telephone callers claiming to be from the police or a bank and asking you to send them money.

“If this happens, put the phone down, wait a few minutes until you get a dialling tone and call Essex Police to report it.”

Since Wednesday, January 1, thieves have made 21 attempts to steal from elderly people across Essex and all but three realised the telephone calls they received were scams.

More than 550 thefts and attempted thefts have been reported in Essex since January 2013 and more than 80 people in Essex have been tricked out of money.

More than £286,000 has been stolen in total, with six people arrested.

Det Sgt Hudson added: “It is important anyone who is called by these fraudsters let’s us know so we can investigate and establish which different stories are being used by the thieves, and to see how they are targeting different areas.”