Five men have been jailed for a total of just over 17 and half years for a series of phone frauds in which they posed as police officers and bank staff to trick their victims out of thousands of pounds.
The group stole more than £40,000 after they dupeded 11 people into handing over bank cards and PIN numbers. Some 1200 cold calls to members of the public had been made by the gang
In all the offences they posed as police officers or bank staff and told their victims that their bank accounts had been infiltrated by thieves.
The tricksters claimed that as part of their investigations they needed to do forensic tests of the victim’s bank cards and PIN numbers or large amounts of cash.
Two of the group acted as couriers and collected cards and PIN numbers which were used immediately at cash machines near their victim’s homes.
The five men were sentenced at St Alban’s Crown Court on Monday February after pleading guilty at an earlier hearing.
The judge, Stephen Warner, said the crimes warranted a departure from the sentencing guidelines to reflect the seriousness of the offences.
He told the five: "These were mean and cynical offences deliberately planned to take advantage of the vulnerable and done to obtain financial gain. Those who commit these offences can expect substantial terms of imprisonment."
Figures released late last year by Financial Fraud Action show a threefold rise in the amount of money lost to phone scammers. During 2014, at least £23.9m of losses was attributed to vishing — up from £7m in the previous year.