A trio of con artists have been arrested in connection with a cruel scam which saw pensioners defrauded of more than £180,000.
Officers from the North East Regional Special Operations Unit (NERSOU) joined forces with Durham, Northumbria, Warwickshire, West Midlands and the Metropolitan Police to execute warrants at properties in South East London, Coventry and Rugby on Wednesday.
Those arrested are believed to have played a key role in a courier fraud scam which saw four North East pensioners hand over more than £168,000 and €20,500 in cash and a Rolex worth more than £9,000 over a two week period in September.
Two other pensioners in Hebburn and Newcastle who had also been targeted were intercepted by bank staff as they also attempted to withdraw funds totalling more than £13,000 for the fraudsters.
Known as Courier Fraud, victims are cold-called by criminals claiming to be police officers investigating fraudulent activity on their bank account. Victims are then coerced into ‘gathering evidence’ and asked to withdraw funds, package up their valuables and send these to the ‘officers’ via a courier who attends their home address.
Because victims generally believe they have been contacted by police officers, learning they have been scammed usually destroys their confidence. “We want to reinforce the message that no police force or organisation would ever ask anyone to hand over their valuables, withdraw cash or send anything via courier.
An investigation into the incidents was immediately launched and yesterday three people were arrested in connection with the callous scam.
A 24-year-old woman from London, a 17-year-old woman from Rugby and a 24-year-old man from Coventry were all arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation and have since been released under investigation.
Detective Sergeant Shaun Fordy from NERSOU added: “As part of Operational Sentinel, our initiative to tackle serious and organised crime, we will actively pursue those offenders who target and exploit vulnerable people in this way, and work alongside our partners to bring them before the courts.”