Taxi sting traps fake policeman who stole £22,000 from pensioners
A fake policeman who stole more than £22,000 from pensioners was caught by a real officer who hid in a taxi he had ordered to make his getaway.
Kye Harwood, 19, pretended to be a police officer in a series of cold-call scams, convincing his elderly victims that their bank accounts had been targeted by thieves and he would keep their cash “safe”.
The London scammer targeted pensioners in South Wales, and was caught in the town of Penarth in February when a neighbour saw one victim sitting with thousands of pounds on their kitchen table waiting for it to be picked up by Harwood in a taxi.
An alert was put out to taxi firms to be on the lookout for a man matching Harwood’s description, and one firm later notified police that a man had booked a journey from Cardiff to London.
A police officer stowed away in the taxi as it arrived to pick Harwood up, and bodycam footage worn by the officer showed the moment he jumped out and apprehended the surprised scammer.
The teenager was arrested and was found in possession of £10,000 in banknotes.
Harwood later pleaded guilty to three counts of fraud by false representation, and on Thursday was sentenced at Cardiff Crown Court to 24 months in a youth offenders’ institution.
The court heard that his three victims were an 83-year-old woman from Penarth, who was conned out of £4,600, a 96-year-old woman from Cardiff, who was defrauded out of £8,000, and an 81-year-old woman from Penarth, who was robbed of £10,000.
Detective Constable Amy Evans, from South Wales Police, said: “This was a callous and cruel crime in which Harwood preyed on elderly people in our communities. These incidents have had a profound effect upon the victims and has left them questioning who they can trust.
“I would like to thank the neighbours and the taxi firm who both alerted police to their suspicions. As a result of their information and assistance, officers were able to apprehend Harwood.
“Unfortunately, Harwood is not the only criminal using this type of scam. This is a sophisticated scam which is being used nationally.
“The fraudsters often tell their victims lies to relay to bank staff who question why they are wanting to withdraw significant amounts of cash – such as they are going to buy a car or are going on holiday.
“Operation Signature is in place to investigate these fraudsters. Officers have been working with local banks and the local authority to raise awareness and to report any suspicious activity to police.”