The Telegraph is reporting that a gang of thieves has pocketed tens of thousands of pounds after stealing private school bills from wealthy Hampstead residents and changing them to make parents pay into the crooks’ bank accounts.
The criminals have targeted a number of high-end flats in the London neighbourhood, which counts as its residents celebs including Ricky Gervais, after sneaking into communal hallways and removing letters.
They are have allegedly picked the locks of multi-occupancy letterboxes in a string of roads where three-bed flats sell for around £3 million – and then steam open the letters.
Each time they discovered one from a private school with a school fees bill inside, the thieves would ‘expertly’ change the bank account details and quickly return the letters to the letterboxes.
Unsuspecting parents then pay the school fees into the fraudsters’ bank account without realising the scam – until they receive a call from the school telling them the term fees are still outstanding.
It is not known how many residents have been targeted – although locals say it runs to ‘scores’ of victims – but police say the gang is ‘at large’ and that officers are investigating…
This kind of scam is becoming more and more common but I’ve not heard it being used for school fees before.
The worrying aspect is that unlike normal credit card scams, I believe the banks are under no obligation to pay these back because the account holder gives the instructions.
Stay alert and check all payment details by phone if in any doubt!
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