Conman jailed after scammers called over 1,600 landlines to prey on vulnerable elderly people using credit card details to buy Rolex watches
A cruel fraudster who conned a 90-year-old Sunderland woman into handing over bank card and pin has been jailed.
Michael Mensah was involved in an elaborate scheme which targeted elderly victims to the tune of £120,000.
The con-artist will spend the next three years and two months behind bars after he purchased luxury watches in excess of £30,000 using debit cards snatched from vulnerable pensioners.
He had been able to get his hands on their cards by coercing his victims into thinking they were sending the items away for safe keeping.
Scores of pensioners reported being contacted by a so-called officer from the Metropolitan Police back in October 2018, who warned them they had all fallen victim to a banking scam as part of a larger crime known as courier fraud.
Terrified, victims were then asked to cooperate in their respective investigations – unaware they would be asked to supply bank cards, pin number and cash to the criminals via a courier who would turn up at the home address.
In one case, a 90-year-old woman from Sunderland with significant health problems had supplied the criminals with her bank card and pin. They were used to purchase two Rolex watches at exclusive jewellers in London.
She was then bombarded with further calls asking for £50,000 in cash which thankfully her bank refused to authorise and called the police.
An investigation was launched with arrests taking place in London, Essex and Birmingham and a quantity of burner phones seized.
It was later revealed scammers had called a total of 1,630 landlines across Gateshead, Sunderland and Durham during a two week period and a separate investigation by Sussex Police uncovered further offending in their force area.
Mensah, 29, was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud but fled the country shortly after being released under investigation.
He was later arrested and jailed in Switzerland after he was caught travelling on false documents, before being deported to face charges here in the UK once he was released.
Mensah, of no fixed abode. appeared before Lewes Crown Court on June 10 where he admitted three counts of fraud by false representation and one count of possessing an article for fraud and was jailed for 38 months.
Detective Chief Inspector Paul Woods, from Northumbria Police’s Crime Department, said: “The aftermath of a courier fraud is extremely distressing for victims, who not only have to come to terms with the fact they were duped by someone they trusted but also with the significant financial loss which they have suffered - in some cases we’ve seen, victims have lost their entire life savings.
“What makes these frauds so difficult to warn people about is that fraudsters can be so convincing and adapt their methods to match their victims’ circumstances which make people think it is not happening to them.
“We like to remind people that no police force, government organisation or reputable company would ever ask anyone to assist in the collection of evidence, to be sent cash, banks cards or valuables using a courier.”
He added: “I am pleased Mensah has been brought before the courts and jailed for his role in this vile scam. He is a greedy individual with little regard for his victims’ wellbeing and financial stability and only interested in making money.”