Colchester/Clacton: Officers swoop on gang ringleaders in £1m elderly fraud scam - 16 arrested
- Credit: Archant
Police officers stormed homes across north-east Essex in a string of raids today as part of a major investigation into a £1million scam which targeted elderly people.
More than 60 detectives investigating the fraud pounced on the gang ringleaders in Colchester and Clacton following a six-month investigation.
A total of 16 arrests were made in the dramatic swoop after officers executed warrants.
Detectives are building cases around 39 victims – whose ages range from 65 to 99 years old.
The operation was led by the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate (SCD).
The team of 65 officers arrested six men on suspicion of conspiracy to commit fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering, one woman and one man on suspicion of conspiracy to commit money laundering, and seven people on suspicion of money laundering.
They are in custody in police stations in north Essex.
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Assistant Chief Constable Gary Beautridge, head of the SCD, said: “Over the past seven months my officers have been investigating a series of cases which appear to be the work of an organised crime group taking advantage of the elderly and vulnerable and exploiting them for criminal gain.
“During the investigation we have spoken to around 140 people who have assisted us in building a case to the point where we have now been able to make a significant amount of arrests.
“The offences we are looking at basically amount to the financial abuse of the most vulnerable members of our society. The evidence would suggest that these vulnerable people have been groomed and then preyed upon by a group whose sole intention appears to be to line their own pockets.”
Essex County Councillor Roger Walters, cabinet member for Trading Standards said: “The arrests today demonstrate that we will not tolerate the unacceptable and abhorrent behaviour of those who prey on the most vulnerable members of our community.
“It is through vigilant work by Trading Standards officers and Essex Police that means we can identify rogue trading, act upon evidence and hopefully stamp out this activity across Essex.”
Anyone who believes they have been a victim of this type of rogue trading, or has concerns about a friend, relative or neighbour, should contact Essex County Council Trading Standards via the national consumer advice helpline on 08454 040506.