A fraudster has been jailed for his part in a scam in which criminals posing as police officers targeted mainly elderly victims.
In each case, criminals claimed to be police officers who were investigating counterfeit money at a bank.
They persuaded their victims, aged in their 70s to 80s, to withdraw large sums of money from their accounts.
Vidunas Tutkus, posing as a courier, collected the cash from them. Two victims were also asked to hand over bank cards.
He managed to steal £24,800 from four victims in this way between April and June last year. The victims were living in Elmstead in Essex, Barrowby in Lincolnshire, Wollaston in Northamptonshire, and Winchester in Hampshire.
On 29 July, a woman in Ramsgate, Kent, received a similar call from someone claiming to be a police officer, who asked her to withdraw £4,000 from her bank account.
She did but police were waiting to arrest him when he arrived after they were notified by her bank.
Tutkus, 23, of no fixed address, was taken into custody.
During police interview, he said he wanted to earn extra money to pay off debts and thought it was a legitimate courier job.
He admitted six charges of fraud by false representation at Ipswich Crown Court on Monday 25 January and was jailed the same day for a total of 19 months.
Investigating officer Detective Constable Lee Winfield, of Clacton CID, said: “The judge described this as sophisticated fraud in which Tutkus was sent to collect money from the victims. “While he was not one of the lead organisers, he still had a key role in the fraud. “Crimes such as this are really callous and distressing because fraudsters take advantage of people’s trust and are very persuasive. “I’d ask people to remain vigilant and to contact us if they receive any phone calls of this kind. “Police officers, law enforcement agencies and banks will never ask you to send money, bank cards or other personal property via a courier, taxi or other means. “They will also never ask for your bank account details or PIN over the phone, so please don’t disclose these to anyone. “Challenge anyone who asks you for this. If you are suspicious, end the phone call. “Wait at least five minutes to ring your bank to check with them the validity of the call, or use another phone, as fraudsters can wait on the line.”
Detective Constable Jim Stevenson, of Lincolnshire Police, said: “Telephone and online fraud is becoming common place due to the current lockdown and we are grateful that our community can recognise these scams from the start.
“This was a sophisticated crime that abused the trust the community have with the police and that was why we were determined to do what we could to locate and bring those involved to justice.
“We hope this result can bring some form of closure to the victim and I am grateful to DC Winfield from Essex Police for his assistance who took the lead in this case.
“Being able to collaborate with another force is of great importance and I’m glad we were able to do so on this occasion.”
If you are contacted by fraudsters, contact us online where you can also use the 'Live Chat' button to speak to an online operator between 7am-11pm.
You can also call 101.
Alternatively, contact the Crimestoppers charity 100% anonymously.
More advice on identifying the signs of fraud can be found here.