A fraudster who scammed more than £20,000 from elderly victims has started a two-year custodial term thanks to a local Cardiff cab firm.
Kye Harwood, 19, from London, was arrested in February following an investigation by detectives into a series of scams where fraudsters purport to be police officers conning elderly victims into handing over thousands of pounds.
Harwood pleaded guilty to three counts of fraud by false representation at a previous hearing.
He was sentenced at Cardiff Crown Court to 24 months in a young offenders institution.
The defendant was part of a group who used a sophisticated and well-rehearsed scam which has been replicated across the UK.
Targeting vulnerable people with cold-calls, scammers claim to be police officers often telling their victims that there has been fraudulent activity on their bank account and that they needed to hand over substantial amounts of money to ‘keep safe’.
The court heard that a number of scam phone calls were made to residents in Penarth and Cardiff on 7 February.
The three victims, aged between 81 and 96, were defrauded of £22,600.
• An 83-year-old woman from Penarth, was defrauded of £4,600
• A 96-year-old woman from Cardiff was defrauded of £8,000
• An 81-year-old woman from Penarth was defrauded of £10,000
The alarm was raised locally by the neighbours of one of the victims in Penarth, who was concerned to see their neighbour sat with thousands of pounds on the kitchen table, which was due to be collected by a man in a taxi.
Thanks to their information, an alert was sent to local taxi firms to keep an eye out for a man matching Harwood’s description.
Later on that day, Taxi firm Cab64 called police to report a man was trying to book a taxi to London from Penarth Road in Cardiff.
Thanks to their assistance, an officer was sat waiting in the taxi to collect the defendant.
The defendant was arrested and found in possession of £10,000 in bank notes.
Detective Constable Amy Evans, officer in the case, said: “This was a callous and cruel crime in which Harwood preyed on elderly people in our communities. These incidents have had a profound effect upon the victims and has left them questioning who they can trust.
“I would like to thank the neighbours and the taxi firm who both alerted police to their suspicions. As a result of their information and assistance, officers were able to apprehend Harwood.
“Unfortunately, Harwood is not the only criminal using this type of scam. This is a sophisticated scam which is being used nationally.
“The fraudsters often tell their victims lies to relay to bank staff who question why they are wanting to withdraw significant amounts of cash - such as they are going to buy a car or are going on holiday.
“Operation Signature is in place to investigate these fraudsters. Officers have been working with local banks and the local authority to raise awareness and to report any suspicious activity to police.
“The message is clear – the police will never contact you in this manner – we will never ask for money. All calls of this nature are a scam, and the person receiving the call should hang up as soon as possible and report it to us on 101.
“I would urge those with elderly relatives or those who care for or know of senior citizens in the wider community who don’t have such support to make them aware of this scam.”
To report any suspicious calls you can contact South Wales Police on 101 or Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.
Image: Source; South Wales Police