Published: 20:13, 24 June 2019
| Updated: 20:13, 24 June 2019
An elderly vulnerable woman was almost conned out of £5,000 in a fast-spreading fraud campaign.
Scam artists convinced Daphne Forrester, 85, to catch a taxi to her bank and withdraw the cash.
Posing as cops on the phone, the con-artists convinced the Deal woman to secretly hand the money to courier Mohammed Majid, to help with a police sting.
However suspicious family members tipped off officers who swooped on the 19-year-old before he could make a getaway.
The victim told the court she “felt a pit in my stomach” and “stupid” after realising she had been conned.
She also feels too shaken to live alone, Canterbury Crown Court heard.
Judge Mark Weekes told Majid he should be “utterly ashamed of himself” and wanted the pensioner’s anguish to be “seared on his consciousness.”
He said: “This is a deeply horrible and nasty offence in which a very vulnerable woman was targeted by fraudsters.
“You were let in and you spoke to Mrs Forrester. You knew you were collecting cash and you knew it was likely from the proceeds of crime.
“I dare say you have elderly relatives of your own. Could you imagine if this deception was performed on your relatives?
“You should be utterly ashamed of yourself.”
Majid, of Kentish Town in London, pleaded guilty to money laundering at a previous hearing following the incident on January 16.
The court heard the trainee-plumber was part of a relatively new scam called courier fraud, where con artists pose on the phone as bank or police workers and convince victims to pass their card to a courier. The card is then used to withdraw cash.
The court heard Mrs Forrester answered the phone to the sound of a foreign voice.
When she hung up it rang immediately again, and then a man and woman convinced her they were from the Metropolitan Police.
Martin Lahiffe, prosecuting, explained they convinced her criminals had bought a laptop with her bank details, and needed her help tracing them.
“You should be utterly ashamed of yourself...” Judge Mark Weekes
“The man asked her if she would help catch the thief and told her to withdraw the money.
“She went to the bank to withdraw the money, the man and woman booked her a taxi through Deal Car Taxis and took her to Santander in Dover. The male told her not to tell anyone what she was doing.
“Her relatives had become worried about where she was and her neighbour called the police, they suspected she was subjected to courier fraud.”
Mr Lahiffe explained officers waited at the address for a call from the fraudsters when Majid arrived in a cab and was arrested.
Kerry Waite, defending Majid, argued it was his client’s first offence and he played a lesser role in the scam.
“At the time of the offence the defendant was just 18 years old. He was not really mature or the most worldly of 18-year-olds,” he said.
Judge Weekes handed Majid a 12-month community order with 15 rehabilitation days and he was placed on curfew between 8pm and 7am.
More by this authorSean Axtell