By Amit Roy
What should be done with a young Asian man who defrauds pensioners by pretending to be a police officer?
Scotland Yard has issued a photograph of the man who is 5ft 8in tall and in his 20s.
The chances are that he was born in Britain of immigrant parents. When caught, the courts should make an example of the fraudster by stripping him – and his parents – of their British nationality and deporting the lot to his parents’ country of origin.
This might seem unduly harsh but really they have deprived themselves of the privilege of being a part of British society where the far right is looking for ammunition.
Take, for example, this man who has been responsible for two elaborate scams targeting elderly victims.
In both cases, according to Scotland Yard, the suspect contacted his victims pretending to be a police officer investigating a fraud at their bank and asking them to help catch the perpetrators by withdrawing large sums of money.
The first incident happened on March 27 and resulted in the 73-year-old victim handing over her life savings. At about 6.30pm, the victim from Dulwich received a call on her mobile phone from a man who said he was a police officer investigating a debit card fraud.
He told the victim to buy €5,000 and a £25,000 watch as part of an elaborate plot to catch the fraudsters. A courier then went to the victim’s address and collected the items.
Then on April 19, an 85- year-old victim received a telephone call at her home in Clapham from almost certainly the same man.
The caller told the woman that he was a police officer investigating a serious fraud at her bank and had two suspects in custody. He explained that two bank staff members were under suspicion and asked the victim to attend a hearing at Woolwich Crown Court the following day as a witness. The confused victim agreed to the request.
The suspect then asked that she go to her bank and withdraw £5,000, which she did. He waited on the phone while she did this. Fortunately, as she returned from the bank the victim told her neighbour about the telephone call.
The suspicious neighbour quizzed the courier when he arrived at around 5.15pm that day to collect the money. As a result he left empty handed. DC Michael Esangbedo of Southwark CID said: “We would urge anyone who recognises the man pictured to get in touch with police.”
He added: “I would like to remind the public that police will never call members of the public and ask them to withdraw money or take part in a police ‘sting’ operation and anyone with suspicions about such requests should call 101 right away.”
The Asian community’s reputation for being law abiding – apart from those involved in terrorism – is well deserved. It is also easily lost.