A man has been jailed for his part in a courier fraud scam which left a Guildford woman devastated after she was conned out of £10,000 of her savings.
Darryl Poole, 24, of London, pleaded guilty to his involvement in the fraud and was sentenced to 20 months in prison at Guildford Crown Court today (7 February).
The elaborate scam began on 22 June 2015, when the woman, who is in her 70s, received a telephone call from a man pretending to be a police officer by the name of “Sergeant West”. He told her he was leading an undercover investigation into a fraud at a local bank and said he needed her help.
The man persuaded the victim to withdraw £10,000 from her account and made arrangements for someone to collect the money from her address.
The victim subsequently realised that she had been duped and alerted police.
During the lengthy and painstaking investigation, Poole was seen on CCTV purchasing a top-up card for a phone in a store in London and identified by a Police Community Support Officer from the Metropolitan Police. This phone was subsequently proved to have been used to call the victim.
Following Poole’s arrest, officers tracked his personal mobile phone which showed that he had travelled from London to Guildford at the time the money was picked up from the victim.
Poole was never identified by the victim as the man who had collected the money from her, but admitted he had travelled with others who were involved.
Speaking after the sentencing, Guildford Detective Inspector Pete Howgate said: “This was a meticulous and painstaking investigation which has taken more than three years to reach its conclusion. However, the sentence handed to Poole today has proved that we will simply not tolerate these despicable and cowardly conmen who target vulnerable victims with the sole intention of stripping them of their life savings.
“The fact that Poole has been brought to justice today will bring enormous relief to the victim, who has been massively affected by what has happened to her. I would like to thank her for her bravery and patience during this lengthy process.”
Speaking of her shame and embarrassment, the victim said: “When I realised I had been the victim of a scam I immediately lost my confidence. I am ashamed that I fell for such a simple fraud. I trusted that the caller was a detective and thought I was trying to help.
“I feel very naive and stupid for being taken in by a voice on the phone and I am still wary of any calls I get. I feel like I have I let my husband and my family down.
“It was our golden wedding anniversary a few weeks after the incident but instead of the large celebration we had been planning, it was a more muted occasion which had a large shadow hanging over it. Only our children knew what had happened as I was so embarrassed to tell anyone else.
“I know we won't get the money back and that we will have to come to terms with losing such a large amount but I am glad that some sort of justice has come of this horrid affair.”
For more information about how to avoid becoming a victim of fraud, go to https://www.surrey.police.uk/advice/advice-and-information/fa/fraud/personal-fraud/prevent-personal-fraud/
For more help and to report fraud, go to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud and cybercrime reporting centre, at https://actionfraud.police.uk/