Detectives have released CCTV footage of a man they would like to speak to after a woman was conned out of thousands of pounds of her life savings.
At about 15:00hrs on Thursday, 9 February, the 51-year-old victim received a call on her landline at her home in Waltham Forest from someone claiming to be a Metropolitan Police Service detective called James Portman.
He stated that she had been the victim of fraud and her identification had been stolen.
To verify his details, ‘DC Portman’ said he was going to hang up the phone and asked the victim to call 999 and quote a crime reference number. The victim was told that the operator would then transfer the call to DC Portman.
In reality, the conman did not hang up the phone and the victim did not speak to a genuine 999 operator.
The victim was then given a set of instructions by DC Portman and was told to visit a bank on Leytonstone High Road to withdraw cash. She was then told to go to a bureau du change in Walthamstow to withdraw Euros and American dollars.
When she returned home at about 18:00hrs, she received another phone call from DC Portman who explained that a courier would be attending her home address to collect the money she had withdrawn. The conman also told the victim he would require her bank cards for evidence.
The victim handed over the money and her bank cards to the courier who said he was delivering the items to Hammersmith police station.
Some 20 minutes later the victim received a phone call from DC Portman who said the items had been delivered.
On Friday, 10 February, the victim received further instructions telling her to go to a jewellery shop on New Bond Street to buy a high-end watch. She was then told to deliver the watch to a courier in Bond Street.
The woman met the same courier as before and handed over the watch.
On Monday, 13 February, the victim received a call from DC Portman telling her that she must withdraw everything or she could lose her life savings. She was first instructed to go to a bank in Wanstead to transfer her savings into her flex account. She was then told to go to a jewellery shop on Old Bond Street to buy another high-end watch.
She was instructed to go to Dover Street in Piccadilly to hand the watch over to a courier, who was a man the victim had not seen before. The victim was on the phone to DC Portman at the time when her mobile died.
The victim asked a member of public if she could borrow their phone and she dialled 101 and quoted DC Portman’s name and the crime reference number she was given. The operator told the victim the crime reference number was incorrect and that there was no DC James Portman in the system.
The victim became suspicious and on Tuesday, 14 February she reported the incident to the police.
Detective Constable James Egley, the investigating officer from the Met’s Operation Falcon, said: “These conmen went to extreme lengths to gain the victim’s trust to deliberately deceive her out of her hard-earned life-savings.
“We would appeal for anyone who recognises the man in the CCTV to contact us or Crimestoppers.
“People should be aware that the police would never send a courier service to collect items and would never ask for your PIN, bank cards, to withdraw money or to buy expensive items.
“Any suspicions should be reported to the police.
“We would urge people to be vigilant at all times so they can avoid falling victim to a similar scam.”
Anyone who recognises the man or has any information should call Operation Falcon on 020 7230 8203 or Tweet @MetCC
Information can also be reported anonymously to Crimestoppers by calling 0800 555 111 or online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org
For advice on how to protect yourself from becoming a victim of fraud visit www.met.police.uk