Hundreds of thousands of pounds have been stolen from vulnerable victims by thieves pretending to be police.

The ruse involves calls to the elderly from people claiming to be from their bank or the police.

They are told that their has been fraudulent activity detected on their account before then being asked to either transfer money remotely to another account online or go to their bank to withdaw cash to be collected by a "police officer" later.

And now one of Ayrshire's top cops has urged the public to remain vigilant after victims in Ayr, Irvine, and Prestwick were targeted.

Read more: Pensioners conned into handing over thousands of pounds to scammers

Between October 2021 and January 2022, over 30 reports have been received from members of the public, who have either been visited or contacted by individuals claiming to be police, say Police Scotland.

The incidents have been reported in Forth Valley, Fife, Lanarkshire, Dumfries and Galloway, Tayside, Ayrshire and the Scottish Borders.

Superintendent Hilary Sloan from Partnerships, Prevention and Community Wellbeing Division, sought to issue some advice so as to prevent future instances of the scam.

Read more: More South Ayrshire pensioners targeted by phone scammers, say police

Irvine Times: Superintendent Hilary SloanSuperintendent Hilary Sloan

She said: “While there are a number of ways police officers may look to contact you, please be mindful of this scam and always be suspicious of any unexpected contact.

“If you receive such a call, or visit, ask for the officer’s details and which department they work for. If the contact is by telephone, hang up and if possible use a different phone to contact the police service via 101, where you will speak to genuine members of Police Scotland and can request police officer verification. 

“We began a national roll-out of new identification cards, which feature an up-to-date picture of the officer, along with other key information and various security enhancements that make them extremely difficult to replicate.

This roll-out was started in October 2021 and all police officers should be able to provide this identification when carrying out legitimate police business.

“If you receive an email claiming to be from Police Scotland with a link to an external site to make a payment, this may also be fraudulent. Be aware of phishing scams and verify that any link provided is genuine.

"If you receive something claiming to be from us requesting any form of payment, contact us via 101 to investigate this matter before parting with your money.

“We are treating this ongoing scam with the utmost seriousness and have officers around the country pursuing various lines of inquiry.”

Those with information can contact Police Scotland via 101. Alternatively, an anonymous report can be made to the charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555