POLICE in London conducted dawn raids on a group of men suspected of carrying out a £1million telephone courier fraud across Devon and the south west.
The scam, reported in the Herald Express in May, is thought to have targeted more than 300, mainly vulnerable and elderly, people.
The perpetrators contact potential victims by telephone, purporting to be a police officer. They are then encouraged by the fraudster to withdraw large sums of cash, which they are then asked to send to London by taxi or a courier, or by electronic transfer of large amounts to a fraudulent bank account .
The culprit claims the money is potential evidence for an investigation and it is needed so it can be forensically examined.
Another scam involves someone claiming to be a London-based police officer, who informs the victim two people have been arrested in the capital.
When arrested they had in their possession bank cards which contained details of the victim. The victim is asked to call the bogus officer and is given a false collar number and telephone number which helps reassure the victim.
Because the fraudster does not replace his phone however, the unsuspecting victim dials but is still connected to the original caller but under the impression they have reached a genuine police officer.
The fraudster then encourages the unsuspecting victim to provide private banking details and may also be asked to withdraw cash.
The joint Zephyr Metropolitan Police operation follows a three month complex and painstaking operation by detectives at Zephyr supported by colleagues in the Avon and Somerset, Devon and Cornwall, Dorset, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire forces.
TWO men from London have been charged in connection with four offences of alleged courier fraud in Devon and Cornwall.
Abdul Shafee and Rahim Choudhury, both aged 18, and from Wheeler House, London, were due to appear before Bristol Magistrates' Court charged with conspiracy to commit fraud.
The charges relate to alleged courier frauds in Braunton, Stoke Cannon near Exeter, and two in Bideford, all between March and April this year.
Both men are further charged with one offence of conspiracy to commit fraud in Dorset and Choudhury is also charged with five offences of conspiracy to commit fraud in Avon and Somerset.