Author Ben Leonard

The BBC has revealed that some gang members are targeting royal mail postal workers, offering them up to £1,000 each to help steal bank cards.

The revelations came in a BBC documentary primarily shown in the Midlands but now has received major national coverage.

“Bring them back to us and get paid”

During the BBC documentary – BBC Inside Out West Midlands – a member of the BBC production team posed as a Royal Mail worker. During his time he secretly recorded the gang members approaching him to take part in the fraud.

One gang member is even seen to be boasting that he has already recruited postal workers in both Birmingham and London. He goes on to say that the gangs have been running this type of fraud for over 30 years, working with many different postmen.

At one point, the reporter meets a gang member outside a bus station in Lewisham, south-east London. The gang member explains quite clearly what is expected of him.

He goes on to say that they have to look out for letters for a certain woman, whose identity is kept private. The gang member tells the reporter, posing as a Royal Mail worker, that he has to intercept any post for this lady.

royal mail

“If you open up a new account you’re going to get your card and you’re going to get your PIN, right?” says the gang member.

“That’s two letters. You intercept the letters, bring them back to us – and you get paid.”

Royal Mail: Card theft in transit

This type of fraud is not uncommon. According to UK Finance, roughly 11,000 in the UK are affected each year by this type of fraud. Postal fraud of this kind is estimated to cost the industry around £12.5 million each year.

Whilst the Royal Mail would not disclose the exact number of staff that had been convicted of stealing bank cards in transit, they did say that this type of theft is “very rare”.

Royal Mail also added that their own security teams were investigating the findings in the BBC program, although they added that they had received no evidence that any Royal Mail employees were actually involved.

Investigations underway

However, despite Royal Mail pledging that they would investigate this type of fraud, UK Finance published figures that show that the problem with theft is not getting better. In fact, it is getting worse.

Both the number of cases, as well as the cost to card issuers, has steadily risen each year since 2014, a year after the Royal Mail was privatised.

Royal Mail is not the only ones investigating this type of fraud, however. UK Finance revealed that they also have their own dedicated police units that target these types of gangs.

Head of the fraud detection unit at UK Finance, Katy Worobec said:

“We do have our own police unit and they target organised criminality, they try and get the people who are actually organising the criminality behind the scene. Once you’ve taken that part of the gang out, the thing falls apart.”

“We’ve got a very good relationship with Royal Mail to help target these types of gangs and we’ve seen some good successes in the past.”