Six teenagers involved in Herts phone scams behind bars for their part in ‘sophisticated’ gang

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Police welcome verdicts, but warn people to still be on their guard

Six London teenagers who formed part of a ‘sophisticated and well-organised’ phone scam gang which preyed on elderly victims in Herts are behind bars after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud.

Police who went into action to stamp out a ‘courier fraud’ crime wave earlier this year have welcomed the verdicts, but warned people to still be on their guard even though the number of similar crimes has been drastically reduced.

The six were arrested in raids across North London in April, which involved officers from Herts and neighbouring forces.

Cambridge Crown Court heard that the defendants, all aged 18 and 19, had been involved in a scam spree which included victims in Herts and four other counties. They bombarded random targets by phone, using false identities - sometimes posing as bank officials, sometimes as police officers - hoping to convince those who answered that their bank accounts had been compromised.

Using a persuasive script, they then persuaded victims who took the bait to part with their PIN numbers and send them their bank cards, which were collected by couriers, and then used by to withdraw cash.

Det Insp Danny Lawrence, who leads the regional cyber crime unit which pinpointed the offenders, said: “These men preyed on the elderly and vulnerable and took advantage of people’s trusting nature. They left the victims and their families in a great deal of distress.

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“I hope this sends out a clear message to anyone thinking about becoming involved in organised crime and, particularly in this case, phone scams. We will identify you and we will bring you to court.

“These arrests were made following effective partnership and collaboration where a number of police forces are working together. This should reinforce the message that the eastern region is a hostile place for organised crime and we will continue to identify, disrupt and dismantle any organised crime groups.”

The judge, passing sentences which ranged from 12 months to three months, said that each man played a part in a sophisticated and well organised group which was indiscriminate in its selection of victims.

Police have also repeated their advice of how to deal with unexpected phone calls:

If you receive a call you’re not expecting, you should be suspicious.

Neither your bank or the police will ever ask for your bank account details or PIN number over the phone, so do not disclose these to anyone, no matter who they claim to be.

Nor will they ever ask you to withdraw money or send bank cards or other property to them via a courier, taxi or by any other means.

If you are not happy with a phone call and are suspicious of the conversation then end the call and call the police non-emergency number 101.

When reporting a suspicious call, wait at least five minutes before trying to make the call or use a mobile or neighbour’s phone to make sure you’re not reconnected to the scammer.

For more about phone scams and how to avoid becoming a victim, visit www.herts.police.uk/PhoneScams

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