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'Day of action' against fraudsters

Victims of 'scam mail' are often the elderly or most vulnerable in our society - losing hundreds of pounds - even hundreds of thousands.

Trading Standards officers launched a 'day of action' to fight back against the swindlers. Andy Dickenson met one man who used his savings to 'try his luck' - and who says he can't believe he fell for the scam.

Sompting couple defrauded of thousands

Police want to speak to this man in connection with a money scam Credit: Sussex Police

A couple from Sompting were defrauded out of several thousand pounds when they were the victims of an elaborate scam on Tuesday last week.

A man who claimed to be calling from the Metropolitan Police rang the couple's home phone number and said that there had been fraudulent transactions on their bank account.

He then asked if they would be prepared to assist with an undercover operation to expose forged bank notes being trafficked by dishonest back staff.

A bogus courier was sent to their house and the couple handed over the money. He is described as white, in his early 20s, 5' 6"-5' 7", of small build with a pale complexion, mid-brown wavy hair and having 'childlike' features. He was dressed rather scruffily in casual clothing that included a dark round-necked T-shirt and a knitted grey cardigan with a large collar. Police have issued an e-fit of the man.

"This was an elaborate and convoluted con trick that must have required at least three people to pull it off. As in previous attempts across the county, some of which have been successful, the trick has been to convince the victims that they were phoning the police or their bank. They do this be remaining on the phone after they have called the victim, who then thinks they are making a new call to the police or bank that is 'answered' either by the original caller or an accomplice. It is a mean crime, invariably targeted at more vulnerable and trusting members of the public. We would like to hear from anyone who may have been the target of a similar scam or indeed, has become a victim. Please call us on 101 quoting serial 1643 of 16/09."

– Detective Constable Paul Tonks

Police or bank staff will never ask you for PIN numbers or send a courier to your house to collect bank cards or cash. If you have any doubts about a caller who asks you to ring back, either use another phone to call or leave it for half-an-hour or so before doing so.

You'll find correct contact details for your bank on correspondence or statements and the police can always be called on 101, no matter where you are in the country.

If you think you are being targeted, use a different phone and dial 999 immediately.

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Reading woman pleads guilty to benefit fraud

A woman from Reading has been given a suspended sentenced after being convicted of benefit fraud.

Marion Forrest, from Cambian Way in Calcot, was sentenced to eight weeks in custody suspended for 12 months after she falsely claimed more than £12,000 in housing benefits.

The 37-year-old was given a Supervision Order for six months and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £80 and £250 costs.

Reading Borough Council will always take a strong stand on issues of Fraud against the council. Thank you to the investigation team for their work in this area. If anyone suspects someone is committing fraud, either Benefit, Tenancy or Blue Badge parking fraud, they should contact 0500 50077 – a free phone fraud reporting line."

– Jo Lovelock, Reading Council Leader

Pensioners swindled out of millions of pounds

Sussex Police are the first force to quantify the scale of a scam mail fraud which is costing pensioners millions of pounds. Criminals worldwide are sending millions of scam letters into the UK, targeting elderly, vulnerable members of our communities.

For many vulnerable people, the bombardment of scam mail results in fear, severe financial difficulties and ultimately a decline in both physical and mental health. Sussex Police obtained a list of potential victims containing the names and addresses of 1,537 people living in Sussex.

Owing to the age group of the victims many had already sadly died, or moved.

Eight arrested in charity fraud investigation

Eight arrests have been made as part of an investigation into charity fraud involving thousands of pounds intended to help people in Syria.

Kent Police arrested the men at addresses across the UK during an early morning operation today after £31,816, 8,310 euro (£6,857) and 10,700 US dollars (£6,413) were seized at the Port of Dover on December 23 2012.

We will continue to ensure any large quantities of cash being transported through Kent's ports is checked against its purpose.

It is now common practice for charities to transfer aid donations electronically, for auditing purposes, transparency, and to mitigate against theft of cash.

We are working with our partners around the country to ensure money intended to help those in need in Syria is not used for criminal activity or in the terrorist arena.

It is imperative that the public has confidence in the charities they support and in the money they are donating being used for the purpose it is intended.

– Detective Chief Superintendent Chris Hogben of Kent Police

Two men aged 30 and 39 from Derby, a 36-year-old man from Harlow, Essex, two men aged 29 and 37 from east London, a 31-year-old man from south east London, a 35-year-old man from Dewsbury, and a 43-year-old from Huddersfield, both in West Yorkshire, are all are being questioned.

People in Poole arrested for overstaying their visas

Immigration officers visited a property in Shapwick Road at 6.50am to question three people to check if they had the right to be in the UK. A 30 year-old Chinese man and a 48 year-old Malaysian man were both found to have overstayed their visas.

A 38 year-old Chinese man had entered the country illegally. All three have been detained pending removal from the country.

These arrests will act as a stark warning to anyone in Dorset who is in the UK illegally. We will catch up with you and you will face arrest, detention and removal from the country. I would urge members of the public with detailed information about suspected immigration abuse to get in touch.

– Carla Johnson, head of the South Central Home Office Immigration Enforcement team

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Woman who stole from her sick father is jailed

A woman From West Malling who stole from a sick relative in order to fund her own lifestyle has begun a prison sentence for fraud.

Linda Cooper, formerly of Durello Avenue, Kings Hill, was jailed for 12 months after stealing more than £35,000 from her own father, who was suffering from dementia.

She had been entrusted with managing Raymond Bartholomew's money, who was receiving care in hospitals and nursing homes. However, between 2007 and 2012 Cooper dipped into her father’s funds to pay for her own day to day living expenses, meals out and holidays.

Family members raised the alarm in 2012, following suspicions that thousands of pounds had been spent without permission of the victim, who died the following year.

This was a serious breach of trust against a very vulnerable victim who was suffering from debilitating mental illnesses. Cooper knew that he was no longer well enough to keep an eye on his own finances and used this to her advantage to deposit large sums of money into her own bank accounts in order to pay for her own lifestyle. Hopefully this sentence will reinforce the message that crime does not pay and that our officers will use every opportunity and legislation available to make sure criminals don't profit from their crimes."

– Detective Constable Brian Elsdon, of Kent Police

Pensioner lost more than £200,000 through scam letters

A pensioner has told ITV Meridian how she spent more than two hundred thousands pounds on postal scams - one of the worst cases Trading Standards has ever seen.

Seventy-six year-old Sylvia Kneller, from Farnham in Surrey was bombarded by letters promising prizes. She responded because they were written directly to her - and she thought they were genuine. But the only intention was to rip her off. Andrew Pate reports.

Hampshire businessmen jailed for £600,000 fraud

Two businessman from Hampshire have been jailed for £600,000 fraud.

Mukesh Patel, 55, and Harishchandra Desai, 61, were franchisees of Pizza Hut UK Ltd and operated four takeaway restaurant outlets in Southampton, Poole and Bournemouth.

The men traded as Pizza Delivery Services Ltd from October 2002 to September 2011.

Desai and Patel ran four lucrative pizza franchises, but greed and a desire to fund their comfortable lifestyles and other business ventures led them to commit calculated VAT fraud over a number of years. We would like to thank Pizza Hut for their assistance and co-operation in bringing these men to justice. Our message to criminals is clear - it is simply not acceptable to steal from the tax system and, ultimately, every honest person in the UK.

– John Cooper, HMRC’s Assistant Director of Criminal Investigation

Three arrested in fraud investigation

Detectives investigating a series of frauds in which elderly people were duped into revealing bank details to bogus police officers have arrested three people.

Officers from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate carried out a series of early morning raids in east London last week.

Three people were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit fraud and have been bailed.

Kent Police is investigating a number of courier frauds across Gravesend, Dartford and Sevenoaks.

It's reported phone calls have been made to elderly or vulnerable people, claiming their card has been used fraudulently. The victim is told to call their bank but the caller remains on the line, they then obtain all the information about the account they need.

I would like to remind members of the public not to disclose their personal details over the telephone to any cold caller. Neither the bank nor Kent Police will ask people to disclose their personal details over the phone.I would also urge people not to input card numbers into the telephone system by pressing the keypad when dealing with cold callers as software is freely available that decodes this information, which providing those carrying out this type of offence with your PIN number.’

– Detective Sergeant Adrian Brown, of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate
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