Scamming of elderly victims admitted

August 22, 2017 | By More

A 22-year-old has admitted using a phone scam to raid the bank accounts of women aged 93, 91, and 73.

Brendon Karl Dean Harris of Hei Hei pleaded guilty to six charges of obtaining money by deception  from a total of six victims at an appearance in the Christchurch District Court today.

Judge Jane Farish remanded him on bail to September 1, for a sentencing date to be set.

Harris also admitted a charge of perverting the course of justice, and a breach of a community work sentence.

Harris was part of a group involved in the well organised phone scams, which police said managed to scam elderly victims out of a total of $280,000 over several months from September 2015.

Several of them have already pleaded guilty and been jailed, but Harris had originally pleaded not guilty and the charges against him had been set for a jury trial.

Police said the group of scammers had targeted elderly women living on their own. The ages of the victims of the whole group ranged from their late 60s to 97.

A male from the group – sometimes Harris – would phone the victim and say there was a problem with their power or telephone account and they owed money.

He would state that the matter needed to be resolved or their power or phone would be cut off.

He would then convince the victim to provide the personal identification number (PIN) for their bank account, and he would organise someone to call to pick up their “faulty” bank card.

A woman would then arrive at the victim’s address to pick up the eft-pos card and confirm the PIN. They would leave a replacement card which would actually be a Prezzy card.

Usually within the next 12 hours, money would be systematically withdrawn from the victim’s account using the bank card and PIN.

The group raided at least 30 victims and the police believed others would have had money taken but were too embarrassed to report their losses to the police.

Harris called a 91-year-old woman in a retirement home and the group then took $3000 from her account.

He contacted a 93-year-old at a retirement home in Papanui and the group got $3144 from her account.

A 73-year-old woman in West Melton was contacted by Harris and $5377 was taken from her account.

This offending took place in November 2015 and January 2016.

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Category: Focus

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