Ranskill pensioner scammed out of £10,000 watch in bogus police phone call swindle

A Ranskill pensioner was conned into buying a £10,000 Rolex watch from a jeweller and immediately handing it over to scam artists in an elaborate swindle.

Tuesday, 3rd November 2020, 9:54 am

The OAP was talked into buying the expensive timepiece after being phoned by scam artists posing as police investigating fraudulent activity affecting their bank account.

After buying the watch one of the criminals met the elderly victim at their home address - where it was handed over.

Unbelievably, the gang later tried to coax the same victim into buying another watch worth £17,000 - however a shop owner contacted police after becoming suspicious, foiling the second attempt.

The OAP was talked into buying the expensive timepiece after being phoned by scam artists

The crimes have emerged as two incidents in a spate of seven cases affecting elderly people around Retford in the last fortnight.

Police say fraudsters primarily ask their aged victims to share bank details over the phone - in an attempt to clear out their accounts once they have card numbers and pass codes.

However in some circumstances they have asked victims to withdraw cash from the bank and hand it over to a courier who comes to their door.

Banks work closely with police to identify possible victims of such crime in their branches - alerting them where possible.

DI Ed Cook

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However Detective Inspector Ed Cook, of Nottinghamshire Police, told how the scammers tried to outwit the alert system by, for example, asking victims to buy very expensive goods and handing them over.

DI Cook said: “Some of the examples can seem really far-fetched but unfortunately elderly people do fall for it.

“Some are more switched on and realise they’re being scammed but we really want to get the message out there and encourage people to speak to us with any concerns.

“My worry is that elderly people are more isolated during the pandemic so we need people to make older family members or neighbours aware of this.”

Mr Cook described how during phone calls the con artists invent a cover story - pretending to be a sergeant or a detective investigating fraud before tricking victims into parting with money.

No suspects have yet been identified with detailed descriptions - apart from vague accounts of two male black and Asian men.

It is understood the scam is part of a large criminal gang network targeting specific areas of the country before moving on.

The detective said: “We’ve been told male and female voices are being used over the phone and it’s hard to identify the suspects during the pandemic as face masks are worn.”

However DI Cook said the force had a team of detectives investigating the worrying trend and he is asking the public to come forward with potential leads, including CCTV footage or even a phone number used by the crooks.

If you believe that you have been called by a bogus police officer report the incident to Action Fraud - the UK's national fraud and cybercrime reporting centre - on 0300 123 2040.

Anyone who has lost money through this scam should phone police on 101 so they can preserve evidence as quickly as possible.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.