15th Sep, 2019

Solihull pensioner leads two courier fraudsters into police trap

Sarah Mason 19th Feb, 2018

A PENSIONER conned out of more than £60,000 turned the tables on her cruel tricksters by luring them back with the promise of more money − and led them right into a West Midlands Police trap.

The 92-year-old was stung in a so called Courier Fraud after a conman called her Solihull home posing as a detective claiming her bank account had been hacked.

He persuaded the trusting pensioner to withdraw £8,300 in cash “for examination” and hand it to Zohaib Khalid − a student paid to play the role of police courier − when he visited in July.

The fraudster also called the woman’s landline on the same day and talked her into buying two Rolex watches from a town centre jewellers − with a total value of £53,000 − and again pass them to 20-year-old Khalid.

However, the woman later suspected she’d been duped and when he tried his luck again the following day − this time asking her to part with £13,700 as part of a supposed undercover operation − she alerted West Midlands Police.

And when Khalid turned up to collect the latest consignment officers were lying in wait to make an arrest.

Examination of his phone led officers to identify Mohammed Irfan Butt as the likely orchestrator of the scam and he was arrested from his home in Kingsbury, London, in August.

Calls on the 24-year-old’s phone was analysed and enabled detectives to trace more people who’d received fraud phishing calls from him − but thankfully none had parted with money after suspecting it was a con.

Both initially denied conspiring to commit fraud − with Aston University student Khalid saying he was oblivious to the scam − but later admitted the offence.

Butt was jailed for four-and-a-half years and Khalid, from Bridge Close in Sparkhill, handed a three-year prison sentence.

Investigating officer, Detective Constable Richard Taberner, said: “These types of offences are truly despicable: offenders target elderly victims and exploit their vulnerabilities to trick them into handing over money.

“Khalid was paid £500 by Butt for each trip and agreed a collection password with the victim in a bid to give the scam more authenticity.

“He claimed to be merely acting as a courier and had no knowledge of the scam − but we found web searches on his phone relating to sentencing guidelines for fraud so it’s clear he suspected he was committing an offence.

“Almost £1,000 in cash was recovered and handed back to the victim and − if she is unable to be compensated through her bank − we’ll be pushing for a Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) case against the offenders to recover money on her behalf.

“She did brilliantly in alerting us once she realised she’d been tricked − and then played her part in luring Khalid back to her home and allowing us to catch him in the act.”

Courier fraud works by scammers calling and pretending to be police officers reporting suspicious activity on a bank account; they may claim to have arrested someone with a cloned bank card, that money has been taken, or cash in their account is counterfeit.

Some people fall for the scam because they believe the bogus PC’s story has been verified by a follow-up call to their bank − but because the scammers don’t hang up the victim is unwittingly still speaking to them and not a bank official.

Police officers or genuine bank officials would never ask you to divulge PIN numbers over the phone or send couriers round to collect cards or cash.

If you receive a call requesting this, hang up and contact police − but check for an open line or ideally call from a different phone.

Please reinforce these crime prevention tips with elderly relatives, friends and neighbours − and help protect them against fraud.

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