A national TV appeal has been made to catch the conman who posed as a ‘police courier’ to dupe an 82-year-old out of £12,000.
Crimewatch Roadshow has highlighted the case of the OAP who was persuaded to go to a cash machine before handing over the money to the ‘police courier’.
But it was all an elaborate scam and the ‘courier’ was a criminal who targeted the Crewe pensioner.
Now Cheshire Police believe there are at least eight victims across the area who have been tricked out of a total of almost £100,000.
Granddaughter Lucy Buckley told the BBC show: “I like to keep an eye on my nan, particularly after the death of my grandad three years ago. She’s made of tough stuff, but losing my grandad was awful and she was slowly starting to get her confidence back.”
Lucy’s grandma had received a call from her ‘bank’ last November. She was told her bank card had been used in London and she needed to travel to the capital to fix the issue.
But as she was unable to travel, the fraudsters offered her the alternative of withdrawing money and handing it over to a police courier for safekeeping.
Lucy added: “She really wanted to help and felt it was something she had to do. They told her if she told anyone it would jeopardise the investigation and she would be arrested and sent to prison.
“When asked what the money was for, the callers told her to tell the bank it was for a new bathroom and family Christmas presents.”
The pensioner withdrew the money and when she returned home she received another call. She was asked to put on gloves and not touch the banknotes with her bare fingers.
She was asked to read the serial number on each note – before the courier told her they were dodgy and needed to be handed to the police.
Former bank worker Lucy added: “It was the little details that made it seem more real for her. They asked her for a password so she knew she was giving it to the right person as part of the investigation and he even had a high-visibility jacket on to look like a real courier.
“When I found out I told her it was a scam straight away, and she didn’t believe me at first.
“Police arrived at her house and showed her their official badges, and that’s when it hit home.
“She felt terrible when she realised what had happened and was extremely upset and kept saying ‘how could I be so stupid?’
“She wasn’t well for a few weeks after. These people don’t care who they target or the after effects. Since it happened it’s knocked her confidence and she doesn’t want anything to do with money anymore – it’s just so cruel.”
Police are appealing for CCTV of the courier.
Detective Constable Kieran Heathcote told Crimewatch Roadshow: “We know this is a growing problem nationally and we are aware of at least eight cases in Cheshire where victims have lost almost £100,000.
“On more than one occasion, the fraudsters used the name Inspector Spencer to convince the victims that they are a police officer.
“I suspect it will be organised crime groups from London. They’ve mentioned Brixton in some of the phone calls and one of the victims was asked to travel to London. The couriers are younger and recruited from all over.”
The courier is black, in his late teens or early 20s, and he was wearing a high-visibility jacket.
He added: “We want people who may have been a victim of this crime to get in touch.”
“It’s my concern that there will be other victims out there that we haven’t spoken to. Many of them say they feel embarrassed or ashamed. But the criminals are sophisticated and convincing so don’t feel embarrassed – do get in touch so we can help you.
“The police will never ask you to go to a bank to withdraw cash or ask for your bank details. If this does happen, hang up the phone right away and call 101 so we can help.”