Cruel courier fraudster who scammed Sheffield and South Yorkshire pensioners jailed
A fraudster has been jailed for his part in a cruel scam where vulnerable victims were tricked into handing over their bank cards and PIN numbers.
Mohamed Chowdhury, of Haverhill Grove, Wombwell, Barnsley targeted elderly people across South Yorkshire and Derbyshire in a 'courier fraud' scam, with victims' losses totalling thousands of pounds.
During the scam, the victims - who were from Barnsley, Sheffield and Doncaster in South Yorkshire and Chesterfield and Calver in Derbyshire - were called between March and May last year by a man who claimed to be from their bank or the police.
He would talk to them about a fraud which is currently happening on their accounts. A number of the victims were persuaded to enter the PINs for their accounts into the phone as 'security', and then asked to place their bank cards into envelopes and leave them on their doorstep, where a courier would collect them to be used as 'evidence'.
After being picked up, the cards were then later used at cash machines to withdraw large sums of money.
There were seven victims in total, who lost over £7,000 between them. Two of the victims – one from Doncaster and one from Chesterfield – sadly died before they could see justice being done.
Father-of-four Chowdhury, 46, was linked to the crimes through a BMW X3 which was seen near the address of one of the victims. Evidence including ATM receipts and bank cards were later found in the vehicle.
Following a joint investigation by a number of officers from South Yorkshire Police and Derbyshire Constabulary, Chowdhury pleaded guilty to 12 counts of fraud by false representation, one count of attempt theft and one count of theft. He was jailed for 12 months at Derby Crown Court on Thursday 6 May. In addition, his vehicle has been made subject to a forfeiture.
Chowdhury had pleaded not guilty to five further fraud offences which will lie on file.
DS Samantha Erabadda, from South Yorkshire Police's Fraud Co-ordination Team, said: "Chowdhury is a callous fraudster who was part of a heartless scam targeting vulnerable people in our communities. These victims believed they were helping with an ongoing police or bank investigation and it's truly awful their goodwill was exploited in this way. The scam even took advantage of last year's Covid lockdown, using the pandemic as an excuse for victims to leave their bank cards on their doorsteps rather than the bogus 'investigation' taking place face-to-face.
"I'm pleased Chowdhury is now behind bars for his part in this scheme. I'm also heartened to know that his BMW vehicle was forfeited - we hope that the proceeds from this will go towards paying back some of the money lost by his victims."
DS Richard Kubon, from Derbyshire Constabulary's Vulnerable Fraud Unit, said: "Chowdhury, like many scam artists, preyed on the very best intentions of his victims – people who simply thought they were doing their civic duty and helping a police officer. The reality was they were lining the pockets of this uncaring conman."
Reports of courier fraud should be made to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or online at www.actionfraud.police.uk.