Detectives have busted a “remorseless” gang of conmen who have scammed pensioners out of more than £600,000.
The fraudsters tricked people into giving their bank details by posing as bank fraud investigators themselves.
On Monday Samheel Baig (39) from Bellshill was jailed for six years and nine months after recruiting imposters into the fraud.
Canterbury Crown Court heard his gang conned 27 pensioners into handing over their life savings after claiming they were bank officials over the phone.
Baig, a chef, was arrested after one got suspicious and called the police - who then traced him to his home in Kelvin Road.
Investigators found a memory stick containing bank details of more than 5000 potential victims and stopped a further £50,000 being transferred to the criminals.
Baig was described as a “mule herder” for organising the money collections.
He admitted conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation and having a memory stick with the bank details of others.
Police managed to arrest one of his gang after he used his own mobile phone for a cab to take a victim to a bank to collect the funds.
Prosecutor Simon Taylor told how the gang contacted at least 27 bank customers posing as investigators, one of their ploys was to tell them that their own banks had been compromised to stop enquiries being made.
He said: “They were told that instead they should transfer funds into nominated accounts via the Internet.
“In one case a customer didn’t use Internet banking, so they organised a taxi to take them from their home to the bank to carry out the transaction.”
In the seven months between October last year and May the total loss to people was £629,558.92 - with attempts to get another £50,900.
Mr Taylor said: “Many of the victims feel acute embarrassment that they allowed themselves to fall victim to this fraud, but it is unnecessary given the nature and sophistication of the fraud.”
Tom Irwin, defending, said the father-of-three was recruited after running up £20,000 worth of gambling and drugs debts. Baig, who blew his slice of the massive scam on drugs, sat crying with his head bowed.
Judge James O’Mahony told him: “I hope you really are remorseful and that those aren’t crocodile tears because you have been a con man here and previously.”
He said the gang had deliberately targeted people who, because of their age, tended to trust banks.
Kent Police are now expecting to make more arrests, a second man is currently being hunted by police after going on the run charged with money laundering and a third has also been charged over the scam.
DC Mark Newman said after the sentencing: “Baig and other conspirators were relentless in their approach in contacting as many people as possible to try and convince them to transfer their money.
“He was a key part of an organised crime group who preyed on the most vulnerable for his own financial gain and showed no remorse for the effect his actions had on his victims.
“I would encourage friends and family members to pass on fraud prevention advice to help protect residents who may not be aware of this type of scam.”
Genuine officers or bank officials will never send a courier to your home to collect your bank card or other items or ask for cash, valuables, or your PIN.
If you receive one of these calls end it immediately without providing information and only call your bank using a number known to you, not one provided by the caller.
Call from another phone, or call a friend first to ensure the offenders have been disconnected from your line.