Fraudsters who stole £120,000 from 47 elderly victims have been jailed for a combined total of more than eight years.
All but one of the victims singled out by Aaron Leacock, Warren Roache or Sean Lee was aged 70 or over.
Each offender admitted conspiring to commit fraud by false representation and was sentenced at Maidstone Crown Court on Friday, March 11, 2022.
Aaron Leacock, 34, of Southviews, South Croydon, was sentenced to 27 months imprisonment, which will be served alongside a five year-sentence he is serving for similar, but unrelated, cases – he was involved in all 47 offences and is estimated to have gained £62,696.
Warren Roache, 38, of Petersham Drive, Orpington, was sentenced to three years and two months – he was responsible for 37 offences and is estimated to have gained £43,180.
Sean Lee, 40, of Coventry Road, South Norwood, London, received a 20-week suspended sentence – he was responsible for 10 offences and is estimated to have gained £18,166.
A victim would be phoned by a person claiming to be from their bank and told that a courier was coming to collect their card due to an issue. The caller would ask various ‘security’ questions and this enabled them to gain excessive amounts of personal information. Once the cards had been collected, Roache and Lee used them to withdraw large sums of money or buy goods at shops close to the victims’ homes. The card would also be used at businesses and cash machines close to the offenders’ homes.
The victims were always called from unregistered, pre-paid sim cards on cheap mobile phones, often referred to as ‘burner’ handsets. Both items were often discarded after being used for a few days.
Detectives were able to review the victims’ call data showing the calls were made from the Purley High Street area – close to where Leacock, a man who had already served two prison sentences for similar crimes, had rented an office. Further analysis of phone data helped to prove that he made the phone-calls to the victims.
CCTV footage led to the number plate of a suspect car, which belonged to Warren Roache. It had been stopped by Sussex Police, for an unrelated matter, in October 2018.
A phone and a sim card were found in his car and this was later found to be connected to several of the calls. Messages on the phone also contained the names and addresses of several victims.
Footage from shops where mobile phone top ups were bought showed where the stolen cards used. Lee was shown buying top ups, or using a victim’s card.
Pensioners were targeted in Gravesend, Dartford, West Kingsdown, Maidstone and Penshurst but also in Essex, Hertfordshire, Hampshire, south London and Northamptonshire.