Ten jailed for organised crime group scam on Surrey elderly and vulnerable (From Redhill And Reigate Life)
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Ten jailed for organised crime group scam on Surrey elderly and vulnerable
4:02pm Friday 7th September 2012 in Local News
Ten members of an organised crime group have been jailed for conning residents across the South-east out of more than £120,000.
The gang were sentenced at Guildford Crown Court to a total of 40 years imprisonment for their involvement in offences which often targeted elderly and vulnerable people.
The sentences for a joint charge of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation followed an investigation by Surrey Police's Cross Border Investigation Team into more than 180 offences.
The gang struck across Surrey, London, Sussex and Kent, between April 2011 and February 2012. In total, the group obtained or attempted to obtain in the region of £200,000 in cash and goods from victims' bank accounts.
The gang's scam of obtaining victims' bank cards and Personal Identity Numbers (PIN) numbers by first calling them and pretending to be from their bank, and then following up with a bogus courier visiting to take their cards, was used to trick pensioners in Horley, Redhill and Reigate.
All ten defendants – nine men and a woman – pleaded guilty in June.
Mark Leacock, 43, of Church Road, Crystal Palace, was sentenced to four years and 10 months imprisonment; Scott Hutson, 24, of Headley Drive, New Addington, was sentenced to four years imprisonment; Iain Hall, 48, of St James Road, Croydon, was sentenced to four years and four months imprisonment; Paul Bennett, 44, of Ferndale Crescent, Carshalton, was sentenced to four years imprisonment; Aaron Leacock, 24, of Starling Close, Croydon, was sentenced to one year and eight months imprisonment; Justin Reis, 33, of Beaver Close, Anerley, was sentenced to four years and six months imprisonment; John Mark Skelly, 35, of London Road, Enfield, was sentenced to four years imprisonment; Patrick Bennett, 27, of Cinnamon Close, Croydon, was sentenced to four years and eight months imprisonment; Tarno Reid, 36, of Alexandra Drive, Lambeth, was sentenced to four years and four months imprisonment; and Sharon Cummings, 42, of Belvedere Road, Lambeth, was sentenced to four years and two months imprisonment. The court heard the group generally used a two-prong approach to obtain victim's bank cards and PIN numbers by initially having someone call the victim pretending to be from their bank, and then sending in another member of the group acting as a courier, who would take the bank card.
In the initial call, the caller would advise the victim that their bank card needed replacing and that a courier would be calling at their address in the next few days to collect their old card. While on the phone, the caller would check a number of details with the victim, including asking for their PIN number. The victim would then receive a follow-up call on the day the bogus courier attended, and while on the phone, the courier would arrive and take the bank card. The stolen card would generally be used within minutes at a local cash machine, and if the card was not cancelled, it would be used to make large cash withdrawals from a bank counter, or used to buy high value items such as watches and electrical items.
Detectives made enquiries into the phone numbers used to call the victims, which included a phone number registered to Aaron Leacock. A warrant was executed at his address in November 2011, when another unregistered phone, which had also been used in a number of offences, was found. Enquiries into another phone number used in an offence in January 2012 found that the phone had been purchased the day before and, following review of CCTV at the shop where the phone had been bought, Skelly was identified.
He was also caught on CCTV using a stolen card to buy a Rolex watch.
A member of the public was able to get a photograph of Hutson, who acted as one of the couriers, and he was also linked forensically to a number of the offences. Hall, Reis and Reid, who also posed as couriers, matched the suspect descriptions given by a number of victims, and were also caught on CCTV using stolen cards.
The other defendants, Mark Leacock, Patrick Bennett, Paul Bennett and Cummings, were identified on CCTV using or attempting to use stolen bank cards. Detective Chief Inspector Paul Rymarz, who led the investigation, said: "The sentences that have been handed to these callous individuals have ensured that they are locked up for some time to come.”
Det Chief Insp Rymarz said: “These offenders prey on the elderly and vulnerable and do not care about the devastating effect their actions can have on their victims' lives. “It's not just about the money – which in some cases amounted to the victim's life savings – but it is also the long-term effect it can have on victims' faith in humanity and ability to trust people.
"Surrey Police is committed to relentlessly pursuing anyone who deliberately targets the vulnerable in our communities for their own gain.”
And in a warning to other conmen and organised crime groups, he added: “I want to make it clear that if you come into Surrey to commit these kinds of offences, then expect to have us knocking on your door.”