Criminals have been using an elaborate telephone scam to extort money from unsuspecting members of the public, using a jewellery shop ‘ploy’.
In December, a victim was persuaded to purchase a Rolex watch from a jeweller in the Torbay area. The victim then entered the jewellers in person and was being ‘controlled’ by the fraudster who gave instructions in real time to the victim by mobile phone.
Devon and Cornwall Police had been investigating an increased number of telephone frauds involving unknown persons randomly calling home telephone numbers and convincing members of the public to part with thousands of pounds. The criminals have used a number of different stories to persuade victims to give away their money, the most recent of which involved a jewellery shop.
At one point the fraudster spoke directly to the jeweller on the victim’s phone, and after purchase, the Rolex watch was collected from the victim by a fake ‘courier’, and the watch is assumed to have been handed over to the fraudster.
Police have warned jewellers to look out for “tell-tale signs” such as the victim’s age, and that sometimes a call will be made to the jeweller by the fraudster confirming a specific watch is in stock but the victim will pay little attention to the watch in store and merely purchase it.
John Shuttleworth, detective chief inspector for Devon and Cornwall, said: “This is a new kind of telephone scam. We ask members of the public to remain vigilant and be aware that fraudsters may attempt to obtain money, jewellery or, indeed, other high value goods in this way.
“We are advising jewellery shop owners and staff to keep a look out for elderly people who may enter their shops to purchase high value items and who are being coerced. We continue to make progress in apprehending suspects. If in doubt about a phone call, people should hang up and report any information they have to police.”
Anyone with any information about this fraud has been urged to contact police on 101, quoting Op Fardel.