POLICE have released at e-fit of a man they want to speak to after three elderly victims were defrauded out of tens 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.

Det Sgt 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.”

She added: “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 them and they told 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, stating neither a bank nor a police officer will ever ask for parcels to be collected by a courier.