Fraudster jailed for part in Covid-19 courier scams

Albino Chaves, who was jailed at Chelmsford Crown Court Picture: ESSEX POLICE

Albino Chaves, who was jailed at Chelmsford Crown Court Picture: ESSEX POLICE - Credit: Archant

A “callous” fraudster who acted as a courier in a series of Covid-19 scams targeting elderly victims has been jailed for more than two years.

Albino Chaves, 24, was involved in a number of frauds in March and April this year, when conmen contacted victims – aged in their 70s to 90s – claiming to be from their bank.

In each case, the fraudsters said the victim would be receiving a new bank card and a courier would go to their home to exchange their old card for a new one. Sometimes they were also offered gift vouchers for the exchange.

Chaves was arrested on April 14 after being identified through CCTV and forensic evidence as the courier. He was released on bail with conditions not to enter Essex, while officers continued further enquiries.

On April 23, a woman in Frinton was called in the same way as the victims in the other frauds, but after speaking with her daughter, she was worried it was a scam.

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The scammer rang a few hours later saying a courier would arrive within a few minutes. She explained it was not convenient but he persisted. She hung up and called police.

Officers attended and waited for the courier to arrive. During that time, another victim from Frinton called to report a courier had collected her bank card.

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While officers were responding to both these incidents, they stopped a black Mercedes in Thorpe-le-Soken after they noticed it driving around the area and became suspicious.

Chaves was one of the men inside. His mobile phone was seized and they found messages talking about both fraud victims.

The frauds took place across north Essex, as well as Sudbury and Epping.

MORE: ‘Evil monsters’ - How I fell victim to shameful £63k romance fraud on dating websiteChaves, of Bentry Road, Dagenham, admitted nine counts of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation and three of conspiracy to defraud.

He was jailed at Chelmsford Crown Court on Tuesday, October 27 for two years and four months.

Detective Constable Hollie Hughes, of Clacton CID, said: “These were really callous and distressing crimes targeting victims aged in their 70s to 90s.

“The fraudsters were very persuasive, and claimed they were collecting cards from their victim’s homes due to the national restrictions on movement that were in place due to coronavirus.

“The judge heard Chaves was part of a planned and targeted fraud, with victims losing between £300 and £4,000 each.

“He had no regard for the distress it would cause his victims and I hope that this sentence will give them some justice.”

Suspicious behaviour can be reported to police on 101 or via Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

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