A new ITV documentary airing this week follows the City of London’s fraud squad as they dismantle a global criminal network conning British victims into buying shares in fictitious companies.
Victims of the so-called Boiler Room frauds include 91 year old John Learmonth who lost more than £100,000 from savings put aside to help pay for the care of his disabled wife.
Mr Learmonth tells the programme: “No human being should be allowed to inflict this on somebody else. They’re despicable. They out there to make money out of people at any price or at any discomfort to the other person.”
Some victims of the scammers have lost their homes while others have committed suicide.
Fraud Squad follows the work of the City of London Police’s Economic Crime Department as they track down fraudsters who use high pressure sales techniques and intimidation con their victims.
Detective Chief Superintendent Steve Head warns: “They will bleed people dry, they will keep on pressurising them until they have got absolutely everything they can. There are tens of thousands of victims of this kind of crime out there in the UK.”
Detective Inspector James Clancy explains how they target their victims: “They steal share lists from companies, and they just go through the list and see if they can get people to buy. The shares are of no value, and then the funds are just gone. In the simplest form it is just straight forward theft.”
The gangs mirror international corporations using slick websites, glossy brochures and mass market emails to convince investors their product is real. It lures in thousands of victims a year. Judges, accountants and even former police officers have been conned.
Series Director/producer Tom Anstiss says: “Fraud is wrongly viewed by some as a white-collar gentleman’s crime, which can be seen as victimless.
“However it is one of the fastest growing crimes in Britain and has a devastating impact on thousands of people. Many victims suffer in silence. The stigma of being defrauded means they are too ashamed to tell their family and friends.”
ITV, Friday, 26 August 2011, 9:00PM – 10:00PM