Video report by Gareth Wilkinson
A PSNI helicopter was deployed to intercept suspected fraudsters accused of posing as police officers to con a Belfast pensioner out of £40,000, a court has heard.
Details of the surveillance operation emerged as four men faced charges connected to the alleged scam.
Ray Lee, 28; Shea Reynolds, 26; Elijah Gavin, 25; and William McGinley, 32, were among six people detained in Belfast on Friday.
The arrests followed an incident where a 65-year-old woman was allegedly duped into taking steps towards handing over £40,000 in cash to individuals impersonating police officers.
Reynolds, Gavin and McGinley are each charged with a single count of fraud by false representation, while Lee faces 40 counts of the same offence.
The defendants' addresses were not made available for their appearance at Belfast Magistrates’ Court on Monday.
However, a detective sergeant from the PSNI’s Economic Crime Branch said he could connect all four to the alleged offences.
During the hearing, a defence solicitor for Reynolds challenged the evidence against him.
“Police conceded that my client wasn’t the person making representations to this unfortunate elderly lady,” the lawyer said.
The court heard that undercover officers arrived at the scene in the Rosetta area as part of an “intelligence-led operation” which also involved aerial surveillance.
“There is police helicopter footage of the incident,” the detective confirmed.
Despite defence submissions that Reynolds is completely innocent, the detective added: “The arresting officer found him in a car along with £40,000 belonging to the victim.”
With no applications for bail, District Judge Rosalie Prytherch remanded all four accused in custody.
Reynolds and McGinley are expected to seek release later this week, while Lee and Gavin will appear again on 21 June.
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