POLICE in North Yorkshire have arrested a man who tried to pawn a gold bullion bar at a London jewellers.

The arrest follows North Yorkshire Police's investigation into a scam which saw victims lose over £450,000.

This summer police received reports of victims who had been targeted by courier fraud scam where criminals call an individual claiming to be from the police and informs them their accounts have been compromised.

The individual is usually advised to go to the bank and withdraw all their money in cash which will then be picked up by a ‘police courier’ for safekeeping. In a twist to this crime, two victims were told to purchase gold bullion with money from their bank accounts and then the gold was collected by the ‘couriers’ to be kept safe.

North Yorkshire Police continued to investigate this fraud which had led to two elderly victims spending over £450,000 in gold bullion and losing their entire life savings. Officers from the Economic Crime Unit worked with the gold dealers where the bullion had been purchased to raise awareness of this crime and put other dealers on notice to watch out for suspicious gold sales.

On Tuesday this week, November 9, officers quite literally ‘struck gold’ when they were alerted that a man had tried to sell one of the gold bullion bars in a London pawnbroker. Working with City of London Police, two North Yorkshire Police officers travelled to London to arrest the 26 year-old man who has been charged with Fraud and Money Laundering offences and will appear in court in due course.

He was remanded in custody and appeared in Westminster Magistrates Court yesterday, November 11.

Head of the North Yorkshire Police Economic Crime Unit, Detective Inspector Jon Hodgeon, said: “This was a horrible crime, which had a devastating effect on two completely innocent victims. They were contacted by fraudsters and groomed over a period of months, their trust and good nature was callously exploited, resulting in them sending their entire life savings to people they believed to be police officers.

“This type of crime is the highest priority for North Yorkshire Police and I hope that this arrest sends a powerful message to criminals that we will pursue you wherever you are. I would like to thank the pawnbrokers and gold dealers for alerting us to the criminal activity and giving us the opportunity to act. It is critical that everybody in the financial sector works together, to share intelligence and this is a great example of what results such partnership working can deliver.

“I would also like to thank my officers for the hard work and long hours they have put into investigating this crime and bringing the offender to justice.

“I hope it sends a very clear message to all the fraudsters out there that we will not stop in our quest to track you down and we will do everything in our power to put a stop to the scams which claim so many victims every year.”