Police are urging people to remain vigilant to telephone scammers after a woman in her 80s lost nearly £20,000 to caller pretending to be a police officer.

Police are urging people to remain vigilant of scammers, and never give out bank details, after an elderly Barnstaple woman was conned out of nearly £20,000.

Sgt Sally Ferris said the woman, in her 80s, received a call from someone pretending to be a police officer.

The person told the woman her bank details had been used in a theft and that she needed to hand them over to catch the perpatrator.

She gave the caller her bank details, including PIN numbers, and her other banking information was collected by a courier.

Sgt Ferris said: "These crimes are hideous.

"They prey on the decent, law-abiding and often vulnerable people and take everything away from them, not just money, but pride, and leave a fear and distrust of the people that are there to help, which is confusing for the victim to recover from.

"We need to remind people about the Operation Jessica message - never let the scammers fool you.

"Police and financial services such as banks and building societies will never ask for banking details, PIN numbers or to help 'trap' the offenders.

"We will never send couriers to collect bank cards, books or documentation.

"We will never ask you to make money transfers. If you are asked to do this it is most likely ascam."

Sgt Ferris said callers often start off being friendly and polite, but 'easily turn' if they don't get what they want.

She urged people to hang up, and do not enter into correspondence with the callers.

"If you think you have been a victim, never suffer in silence," she added.

"Let your bank know to stop any activity on your account immediately, and ask family or trusted friends to help you."

Anyone who thinks they have been a victim of fraud can call police on 101 or contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.