Gang posed as cops to dupe Preston victims out of huge amounts of cash

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Four men who pretended to be police officers to con more than £100,000 out of elderly and vulnerable victims have been jailed for a total of 15 years.

The four London-based scammers admitted conspiracy to commit fraud after pretending to be police officers and persuading their victims - including some in Preston - to hand over large amounts of cash.

Leeds Crown Court heard the group would call their unsuspecting victims pretending to be investigating fraudulent activity within their bank account, before convincing them to withdraw and handover between £5,000 and £20,000.

Police said a total of 60 offences were recorded across the country, also including Burnley, and saw the con-artists, who were sentenced yesterday, pocket £118,000.

Det Insp Martin Melvin, of Lancashire Police, said: “These men committed a number of despicable crimes against elderly and vulnerable residents.

“They posed as police officers to gain the confidence and trust of the victims before betraying them for financial gain.

“While these crimes happened across the country, a number of people in Lancashire fell victim to the scam.

“We were able to warn the majority of people about these offenders through the media, but unfortunately some people had already lost large sums of money.

“Working alongside colleagues from other forces we quickly established the calls were coming from the London area and traced the offenders. The group was subsequently arrested and charged.

“This case serves as a reminder if you get these types of phone calls, report it to the police and your bank before transferring any money into another account or agreeing to hand any of your cash over.

“People who commit these offences will often target the elderly posing as officials to gain their trust. No police officer or other official body will ever ask for your bank details or would ever ask you to withdraw or transfer funds.

“We welcome [Friday's] sentences and hope they serve as a warning to others – if you commit these crimes, we will catch you.”

Malik Amer, 24, of Monthorpe Road, was jailed for four years and seven months, as was Shah Ahmed, 22, of Toynbee Street.

Rahim Ali, 22, of Vernon Road, was sentenced to three years and six months inside, while Ruhel Miah, 19, of Chilton Street, was given a jail term of four years and 11 months.

A further man, also from London, admitted one offence of fraud and will be sentenced at a later date.