'Callous' courier fraudster jailed for 19 months
- Credit: Essex Police
A fraudster has been jailed for his part in a "callous" courier scam which saw criminals steal nearly £25,000 from elderly victims while posing as police officers.
The fraudsters claimed to be officers investigating counterfeit money at a bank, and persuaded elderly victims, aged in their 70s and 80s, to withdraw large sums of money from their accounts.
Vidunas Tutkus, posing as a courier, collected the cash from victims, and two were also asked to hand over bank cards.
He managed to steal £24,800 from four victims between April and June last year.
The victims were living in Elmstead, near Colchester, in Essex, Barrowby in Lincolnshire, Wollaston in Northamptonshire, and Winchester in Hampshire.
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On July 29, a woman in Ramsgate, Kent, received a call from someone claiming to be a police officer, who asked her to withdraw £4,000 from her bank account.
She did so but police were waiting to arrest Tutkus, 23, of no fixed address, when he arrived after they were notified by her bank.
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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 and was jailed for a total of 19 months.
Detective Constable Lee Winfield, of Clacton CID, who was the investigating officer in the case, 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."
DC Winfield also urged people to be vigilant against this type of scam.
“I’d ask people to remain vigilant and to contact us if they receive any phone calls of this kind," he added.
“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.”