FRAUDSTERS have conned farmers in North Yorkshire out of thousands of pounds.

In the last two weeks, five farms in the Selby district have received phone calls from men claiming to be part of a bank fraud investigation team, who urged customers to transfer their money into what they claimed were "safe accounts".

A North Yorkshire Police spokesman said one farmer had lost his entire life savings in the scam.

Some victims have transferred money through internet banking, while others were told to go to their bank and not mention it to staff, who were also said to be under investigation as the fraudsters claimed someone had attempted to cash a cheque on their account for £11,500.

In some cases, the victims have been asked to phone the number on their bank cards but the line has remained open, meaning they were still speaking to the fraudsters.

Detective Constable Amanda Bostwick, of Selby CID, said: “The suspects in these cases are very convincing and knew who the customers banked with and in some cases, how much they had in their accounts.

"We strongly advise anyone who receives such a call not to engage with the caller, put the phone down and to call their bank in the usual way. Always take care that the line is clear before you make a call. If it is convenient, call in person at your bank to discuss your account if you are worried.”

In one case, the victim became suspicious and stopped the phone call before transferring any money, and police have urged residents of York and North Yorkshire to hang up if they are at all suspicious, and never to transfer money to an unknown bank account.

Officers have also advised all people never to pass any personal information over the phone or in person to cold callers, always to check with their bank if called by someone claiming to be from a bank fraud investigation team, and use a different phone line to the one the fraudsters phoned on to report the incident to their bank.