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Cambridgeshire police catch ‘callous conman’ red handed in £9,000 scam

‘Sadly, this type of fraud is all too common these days’

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A fraudster who tried to take thousands of pounds off an elderly woman in a Cambridgeshire village by posing as her daughter has been jailed for three years. Mario Madeo, 27, sent a text message to the victim in March last year claiming to be her daughter using a friend’s phone because hers was broken.

Madeo asked the victim for money, spinning a story that “she” was in trouble with a loans company and bailiffs were due to visit her property later that day.

The victim said she would get the amount requested – more than £9,000 – by the end of the day.

Madeo then posed as a bailiff called Daniel and arranged to visit her home in Sawtry near Huntingdon to collect the money.

Just before he was due to arrive, the victim contacted her daughter, who is in her 50s, on her normal mobile, to double check whether it was a scam, before promptly calling police.

Officers arrived at her home and noticed a silver car parked further down the road with Madeo and another man inside.

Madeo had a mobile phone in his hand, so, thinking on his feet, one of the officers dialled the number used to contact the victim and sure enough, Madeo’s phone rang.

Mario Madeo, 27, sent a text message to the victim in March last year claiming to be her daughter

Mario Madeo, 27, sent a text message to the victim in March last year claiming to be her daughter

He was arrested for fraud by false representation and later pleaded guilty to the offence.

Madeo, of no fixed abode, was sentenced to three years in prison at Peterborough Crown Court on Thursday (29 February).

He was also handed a restraining order and his phone and sim cards destroyed.

Detective Constable Lauren Kirkup, who investigated, said: “This was fantastic work from our quick-thinking officers who promptly attended the victim’s home and I’m thrilled we’ve been able to put this callous conman behind bars and prevent further offences.

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“I’m so relieved the victim realised it was a scam before she handed over any cash and gave us the opportunity to get hold of the person responsible.

“Sadly, this type of fraud is all too common these days and fraudsters are becoming ever more sophisticated in their attempts to get serious amounts of cash from their victims.

“They often strike under the guise of being a family member – often a child – as they know this will tug on people’s heartstrings.

“I hope this shows how seriously we take these crimes, and we will continue to work hard to do all we can to put scammers behind bars.”

The victim, who wishes to remain anonymous, added: “When I first received the message purporting to be my daughter in debt with bailiffs on their way, my initial feeling was one of worry.

“Looking back, I should have known immediately she wouldn’t be in any debt – being responsible with money is something we taught her from an early age.

“However, at the time, your mind isn’t thinking clearly. It was only later on in the day, after speaking with the alleged bailiff to arrange collection of the money, that alarm bells started to ring.

“The police were absolutely fantastic; I cannot speak highly enough of them – they were here so quickly and couldn’t have looked after me any better. I am so pleased with their work and the result of this case.

“I’m so relieved I didn’t hand over any cash and I realised it was a scam, but sadly, not everyone is so lucky, and these fraudsters are getting ever more sophisticated in the way they go about things.

“They deliberately target older and more vulnerable people who are less tech-savvy, and I would encourage everyone to think and double check before acting on a request and handing over any cash.

“I would also say never be worried to call the police, they are here to help, and your information could just lead them to the perpetrator.”

For more on courier fraud and how to keep yourself safe, visit Cambridgeshire Police  website

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