A WOMAN posing as a police officer attempted to steal money from residents in South Ockendon and Stanford-le-Hope over the phone today.

The woman, who calls herself Jennifer Clark, or Jennifer Lark, is the latest fraudster to attempt to steal money or credit cards in a complex telephone scam being carried out across the county.

Calls she made today also included residents in Leigh.

Fortunately, all 12 intended victims realised that the caller was a fraudster, ended the call and contacted genuine officers from Essex Police.

DS Neil Hudson said: "This woman is linked to attempted frauds across Uttlesford and the south of the county.

"She always claims to be an officer from the local police station and says she is investigating burglaries in the area.

“She tells her intended victims that her bank cards have been found as a result of enquiries into the burglaries, then asks the victims to let police have bank or credit cards or large sums of cash for forensic examination.

"A courier is then sent to pick up the cards and cash but they are never returned.

"A woman claiming to be a local officer investigating burglaries is a new form of the telephone fraud and we urgently need to warn people to be on their guard.”

The telephone fraudsters, who have mainly been men, made 140 calls to Essex residents during March but the majority were fortunately unsuccessful.

A total of 750 similar thefts and attempted thefts have been reported in Essex since the scam first came to light in January 2013, and similar crimes have been reported in the Met Police area and other counties.

More than 100 people in Essex have been tricked out of money and the total stolen is more than £355,000. Six people have been arrested in connection with the investigation.

Police are reminding residents that officers or bank officials would never ask for full bank details over the phone, and that if you think you’ve been a victim, to contact from a different phone.