Episode 12 Fake Britain


Episode 12

Dominic Littlewood reveals the story of how Alfred Mason's daughter discovered that her father had lost his entire life savings after falling victim to conmen.


Similar Content

Browse content similar to Episode 12. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!

Transcript


LineFromTo

Welcome to a world where nothing is quite as it seems.

0:00:020:00:07

Welcome to Fake Britain.

0:00:070:00:09

-Police!

-Police officer, stay where you are!

0:00:090:00:12

You're under arrest.

0:00:220:00:23

In this series, I'm going to be investigating

0:00:250:00:28

the world of the criminals who make

0:00:280:00:30

their money at your expense,

0:00:300:00:31

and I'll be showing you how not to get ripped off.

0:00:310:00:34

Coming up... How one man died penniless

0:00:340:00:38

after buying hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of fake shares...

0:00:380:00:42

This is where Dad finished his life.

0:00:420:00:46

You can see that where he has been sitting, he's eroded the mould away, but the mould is there.

0:00:460:00:52

Officers raid a suspected fake number plate factory...

0:00:520:00:55

-Counterfeit number plates? What do you mean by that?

-Listen to what I'm saying to you.

0:00:550:00:59

And the fake prizes that nearly cost one couple their marriage.

0:00:590:01:03

I nearly lost the wife.

0:01:030:01:05

That would have been the biggest mistake of my life.

0:01:050:01:08

A number plate tells the world the identity of your car,

0:01:140:01:18

but if it was a fake, you could drive off without paying for petrol,

0:01:180:01:22

park illegally, go through speed cameras, even use it for serious crime

0:01:220:01:26

and you might not get caught, which makes fake number plates a valuable commodity to a criminal.

0:01:260:01:32

And we're going to meet the people who are tracking them down.

0:01:320:01:35

A police and Trading Standards arrest team are out on a raid.

0:01:370:01:41

They're investigating a company they think might be producing counterfeit number plates.

0:01:410:01:45

Deborah Charles is leading the unit.

0:01:450:01:49

They're not requesting the correct documentation from people.

0:01:490:01:53

It means that anybody can get any number plate, and that's not people...

0:01:530:01:57

They might be trying to avoid congestion charges, they might be cloning vehicles for other purposes,

0:01:570:02:03

driving explosives up and down the motorway, without anybody knowing who that vehicle is registered to.

0:02:030:02:09

And as soon as they arrive, they find one of the company directors about to get into their car.

0:02:140:02:19

Oh, hello, I'm Deborah Charles from Milton Keynes Trading Standards.

0:02:190:02:23

We're here because BEEP isn't registered, first of all, with the DVLA, as a business,

0:02:230:02:29

and, secondly you're not asking to see the documents that are required to be seen.

0:02:290:02:34

Show plates are only meant to be used when the car is off the road.

0:02:360:02:40

However once a number plate is made, it could be used on the road, illegally.

0:02:400:02:45

Suppliers of number plates for use on the road

0:02:450:02:48

must be registered with the DVLA, and unregistered suppliers could be a source of fake number plates.

0:02:480:02:54

This supplier is not registered and everything points to a large-scale business.

0:02:540:02:59

One director is taken to the police station for further questioning, but there's no sign of the other.

0:02:590:03:05

Deborah's hoping he'll be able to provide some answers.

0:03:050:03:08

He's on his way.

0:03:080:03:10

And before long...

0:03:120:03:14

Hi, I'm Deborah Charles from Milton Keynes Trading Standards.

0:03:140:03:17

We've got a warrant here to search the premises, because you haven't kept copies of,

0:03:170:03:25

or seen, relevant documentation, in relation to people applying for number plates.

0:03:250:03:29

So far so good. This fella seems to be taking everything rather well.

0:03:290:03:34

And what you've been arrested for is counterfeit licence plates.

0:03:340:03:39

Counterfeit licence plates? No, no, no, no.

0:03:390:03:42

-You've stood there with an attitude the whole time...

-No, I haven't...

-Yes, you have, let me speak.

0:03:420:03:47

-No...

-Counterfeit number plates, what do you mean by that?

0:03:470:03:50

Listen to what I'm saying to you. Just listen...

0:03:500:03:53

-No need to talk to me with attitude, there's no need for it.

-I haven't come with no attitude.

0:03:530:03:58

All I'm telling you is what I know.

0:03:580:03:59

I'll help, but I'm not having someone speak down to me.

0:03:590:04:02

I'm not even talking down to you. I'm not even talking down to you.

0:04:020:04:06

If you interpret it in the wrong way, that's your problem, mate.

0:04:060:04:09

All I'm saying is that's what's been said and that's what's happening, all right?

0:04:090:04:13

I am not disputing that. Have I disputed that once?

0:04:130:04:16

But I'm telling what I've been told, and then you're telling me I'm talking down to you.

0:04:160:04:20

But you've been stood there, like this, speaking down to me the whole time.

0:04:200:04:24

-I haven't talked down to you whatsoever.

-Let's get on with it.

0:04:240:04:28

-Why can't we go yet?

-Cos I need transport.

0:04:280:04:32

-Let's go, I'll drive us there.

-We are not driving in your car.

-Why not?

-Cos we're not.

0:04:320:04:36

It seems he's more worried about how he's parked his car than a possible prison sentence.

0:04:360:04:41

You're under arrest, you're not moving your car, OK?

0:04:410:04:44

-No, but you've got no right to...

-I have, you're under arrest.

0:04:440:04:48

But Deborah's not to be put off the scent.

0:04:480:04:51

We're going to take the equipment from here.

0:04:510:04:56

We're going to take all of the computer equipment, all of the equipment that

0:04:560:05:00

-we believe is required in evidence in court to prove the offences.

-These are personal laptops.

0:05:000:05:05

That's my personal one there, and all.

0:05:050:05:07

They'll be previewed, we'll see quickly if there is anything on

0:05:070:05:10

-there and if we need to keep them or not.

-It's ridiculous, is it not?

0:05:100:05:14

There's old women getting raped and mugged and...

0:05:140:05:16

-There isn't, mate, not this morning.

-There ain't this morning?

0:05:160:05:20

-I bet somewhere there's an old woman getting raped.

-No.

0:05:200:05:23

I bet there is, somewhere in the world. And there's one, two, three...

0:05:230:05:26

I don't know how many. But it's ridiculous, is it not?

0:05:260:05:29

You could also argue that there are people driving around

0:05:290:05:32

-with number plates that they are not entitled to.

-This fella's coming far from quietly.

0:05:320:05:36

Excuse me, I want to see my little girl. Simple.

0:05:360:05:39

-No, we don't normally do that.

-What do you mean, "You don't normally do that?"

0:05:390:05:43

When we arrest people, we don't normally do requests.

0:05:430:05:46

We don't take them into the house. Normally, we'll take you to the police station.

0:05:460:05:50

-We're waiting for the transport and then we will be going straight away.

-Let's go.

0:05:500:05:54

The transport arrives and the suspect is taken to the local police station.

0:05:560:06:00

Then, it's just a case of bagging and tagging the evidence. And it just keeps coming...

0:06:030:06:08

and coming...

0:06:080:06:10

and coming.

0:06:100:06:13

I am quite surprised at the scale, you know?

0:06:130:06:16

We weren't necessarily expecting the quantity of blank media.

0:06:160:06:20

They are obviously set up as quite a big business.

0:06:200:06:24

They are obviously turning over

0:06:240:06:26

quite a number of number plates each day.

0:06:260:06:28

With so much evidence to go through, it will be some time before this case is closed.

0:06:280:06:34

Raymond Kaye and his wife Paula live in the village of Aldbrough, near Hull.

0:06:490:06:54

Teenage sweethearts, they'd been together over 50 years,

0:06:540:06:58

before their marriage was threatened by the conmen offering fake prizes.

0:06:580:07:03

It wasn't love at first sight, not for me.

0:07:030:07:05

But after we'd been going out about four and a half years,

0:07:050:07:08

quite a few of our friends had said, "Are you ever going to get together, cos you're always together?"

0:07:080:07:15

And we thought about it and said, "Shall we?"

0:07:150:07:18

and that was... We got engaged.

0:07:180:07:20

We've been married almost 51 years.

0:07:200:07:24

Ray was with the armed services for most of his working life and was the main breadwinner.

0:07:250:07:30

I've always been...

0:07:300:07:31

I'm going to sound big-headed here, but I've always been good with money

0:07:310:07:35

and always looked after her and the kids.

0:07:350:07:39

If they wanted clothing, the money was there for the clothing.

0:07:390:07:42

After he retired, Ray's health began to decline and newspaper offers of supplements caught his attention.

0:07:420:07:49

I was feeling a bit down one time and I saw this advert in the paper and I sent away for this item.

0:07:500:07:56

They did send me the stuff that I had asked for.

0:07:560:08:01

The next then another letter came, another,

0:08:010:08:03

"Send this... if you send this, you will get so much money."

0:08:030:08:07

Because he bought those supplements, Ray had become a target for the conmen.

0:08:090:08:13

His name was now on a list and offers of fake prizes began to pour in.

0:08:130:08:19

But to claim them, he had to order more goods.

0:08:190:08:23

About a year ago, they started saying, "Well, you've won more presents now.

0:08:230:08:27

"Such things as laptops, cameras, televisions.

0:08:270:08:31

"And they're all stored in a warehouse and it's all there, guaranteed."

0:08:310:08:36

It all looked perfectly legal and above board to me.

0:08:360:08:38

With their 50th anniversary approaching, Ray wanted to win

0:08:380:08:41

enough money to take Paula on a holiday to the Canadian Rockies that she had always dreamed of.

0:08:410:08:46

All the time I've been married, my wife has always said to me,

0:08:470:08:51

"I'd like to go on the trip to Canada, round the Canadian mountains."

0:08:510:08:57

Ray wanted to keep his plan a secret, but the huge increase in mail hadn't gone unnoticed.

0:08:570:09:03

She was alarmed and told him he was being conned.

0:09:030:09:06

I don't mind him sending for an odd thing,

0:09:070:09:10

but then it became a daily thing. And I begged him to stop, but I couldn't stop him.

0:09:100:09:17

I didn't believe her at all, because of all these good letters they give.

0:09:170:09:20

"How can you be telling it is a scam, Paula, when there's all these and they all seem...

0:09:200:09:26

"The testimonials from other people, I've got this and I've got that? Look, they have won them."

0:09:260:09:32

Despite Paula begging him to stop, Ray kept sending off

0:09:320:09:36

for more things, in the belief he would win the prizes.

0:09:360:09:39

Paula was now very worried about the amount of money he was spending.

0:09:390:09:43

We have a joint account and we always have had.

0:09:440:09:47

My pension goes into that joint account.

0:09:470:09:51

He couldn't see it, he really couldn't see it and he said,

0:09:510:09:54

"What I do is nothing to do with you."

0:09:540:09:57

And this is when it became all out of context.

0:09:570:10:00

He became obsessed. It's an addiction.

0:10:000:10:03

I don't care what anybody says, it's certainly some kind of an addiction.

0:10:030:10:07

There was one time, and I can't tell you which firm it was,

0:10:070:10:12

but he had won £35,000 and there was a car coming

0:10:120:10:18

at 9:30 in the morning to take him to Hull Station, on first class,

0:10:180:10:25

to take into London, where there would be a chauffeur waiting for him,

0:10:250:10:29

to take him to the place where he would be presented with the cheque.

0:10:290:10:32

And my husband sat waiting for this car and I said, "It's not going to come."

0:10:320:10:37

He said, "I think this one is. It really is."

0:10:370:10:41

Nothing. Nothing whatsoever.

0:10:410:10:44

Ray was now being contacted by dozens of companies

0:10:440:10:48

and his mail order addiction was spiralling out of control.

0:10:480:10:51

Right, this is where I keep my stuff.

0:10:520:10:55

He was now ordering all manner of products in a desperate attempt to win those huge prizes.

0:10:550:11:01

This I want to show you specially, it's for washing my car down and doing the windows and all that.

0:11:010:11:07

Hygiene wipes for sweating and that.

0:11:070:11:11

And that's just an ornament thing, for photographs.

0:11:110:11:15

Ray attempted to conceal his purchases from Paula,

0:11:160:11:19

but their small bungalow offered few hiding places.

0:11:190:11:23

Every corner of the house was things pushed in, pushed in, wherever I went.

0:11:240:11:30

Down the bottom...and then all on the back of the...on the top shelf... In the corner, here.

0:11:300:11:37

I was supposed to, sort of,

0:11:370:11:38

ignore what was around, because it was nothing to do with me. I felt pushed out,

0:11:380:11:43

because we always did things together.

0:11:430:11:47

And I've thought, "He's not the same person." And I've told him he's not.

0:11:470:11:51

Despite their years of happy marriage, Paula had had enough.

0:11:510:11:56

'I was ready to leave.'

0:11:560:11:58

I don't know where I would have gone, but I would have found...

0:11:580:12:01

Maybe some sheltered housing or something like that, because I couldn't cope any longer.

0:12:010:12:05

It brings tears to me eyes, I'm sorry.

0:12:050:12:08

Later, we'll see how a neighbour investigated the conmen and came to Ray and Paula's rescue.

0:12:110:12:17

I checked them on the internet, and they all came up on the FBI's known mailing scams.

0:12:170:12:22

Benefit fraud is costing this country £1 billion a year,

0:12:320:12:35

and every penny of that is money the cheats are taking away from things like education and health.

0:12:350:12:42

Across the country, councils and the police are pursuing benefit fraudsters.

0:12:420:12:46

Here in the London Borough of Hillingdon, investigators are tackling the problem head on

0:12:470:12:52

and raiding the suspects.

0:12:520:12:54

If we can find the gentleman and the passport, I will be delighted.

0:12:540:12:57

It's dawn and the Hillingdon team are being briefed on a suspect

0:12:570:13:02

they believe bought a fake French passport, in the name of Stephane Naguie,

0:13:020:13:07

and then used it to claim nearly £30,000 in fraudulent benefits.

0:13:070:13:11

It's time to pay him an early hours visit.

0:13:130:13:16

This is the flat where the suspect fraudster should be living,

0:13:230:13:27

because it's the address the claims are being paid out to. But is there anyone home?

0:13:270:13:33

There's no response, but perhaps a wake-up call from the investigator will work?

0:13:370:13:41

It's ringing.

0:13:410:13:44

And he answered and said "Hello?" And I just ended the call.

0:13:440:13:49

He's answered the phone but still hasn't opened the door.

0:13:490:13:53

Time to get tough.

0:13:530:13:55

Suddenly, there is movement inside.

0:13:590:14:01

Police, open up!

0:14:010:14:03

Somebody is finally opening up, but is it the suspect?

0:14:030:14:07

There's no way you didn't hear our bashing!

0:14:070:14:10

-Morning. We're the police.

-Morning.

-Whose flat is this?

0:14:100:14:13

There are two men inside and they say it's their friend's flat,

0:14:130:14:18

but they can't explain why they didn't open the door.

0:14:180:14:21

This man checks out fine.

0:14:210:14:24

But the other man looks a lot like the suspect they are looking for -

0:14:240:14:28

the man they believe has a fake French passport in the name of Stephane Naguie.

0:14:280:14:34

But he says his name is Saimi.

0:14:340:14:37

Well, we believe that you are the person in this photograph here, so I'm going to be arresting you

0:14:370:14:42

on suspicion of offences under the Identity Card Fraud Act, 2006.

0:14:420:14:46

He says his full name is Sammy Maisie and that this isn't his home address.

0:14:470:14:52

But officers find evidence that he might be lying -

0:14:520:14:55

a bank account in that name, at this address.

0:14:550:14:59

Sammy Maisie, 21... BLEEP

0:15:010:15:02

HSBC account is in your name at this address.

0:15:080:15:11

More evidence is piling up that he does live here -

0:15:120:15:15

post, photographs and other possessions.

0:15:150:15:18

-We've got National Insurance.

-Yeah, I'll have those, too.

0:15:180:15:22

-That's you, is it?

-Where are your belongings?

0:15:220:15:25

Who is this person?

0:15:250:15:26

The police are not convinced his real name is Sammy Maisie, either.

0:15:280:15:31

What is your real name? What is your real name?

0:15:330:15:37

What's your real name?

0:15:410:15:43

It's proving to be a difficult question.

0:15:470:15:49

And although there's no sign of the fake passport

0:15:500:15:53

in that the name Stephane Naguie, the fraud team and police

0:15:530:15:56

suspect this is the man who set up the fake claim.

0:15:560:15:59

The council decided that, on the evidence from the flat,

0:16:010:16:04

they would not be able to prove conclusively that he was the man

0:16:040:16:07

shown in the fake French passport.

0:16:070:16:09

But investigations reveal that the name he gave police, Sammy Maisie,

0:16:100:16:14

was a fake identity.

0:16:140:16:16

He was found to be in possession of a fake Belgian passport

0:16:170:16:20

and a fake UK National Insurance identity card.

0:16:200:16:24

He was sentenced to six months in jail.

0:16:240:16:28

The council have also proved that no-one called Stefan Nagui

0:16:280:16:31

lived at the address, so have stopped paying the housing benefit claim.

0:16:310:16:36

Raymond Kay and his wife Paula were torn apart by his addiction

0:16:440:16:47

to the offer of fake prizes from dozens of mail-order companies.

0:16:470:16:52

When the couple went away for a short break, they asked neighbour, Michelle,

0:16:530:16:57

to feed their cat and look after the house.

0:16:570:17:00

She was shocked by what she found.

0:17:000:17:03

When I opened the door, the mail that was behind the front door,

0:17:030:17:07

I would expect a small business to receive, or a large business,

0:17:070:17:11

not a pensioner and certainly not at a residential address.

0:17:110:17:15

They were offering prize-winning lotteries in other countries.

0:17:150:17:19

I checked them on the internet a they all came up on the FBI's known mailing scams.

0:17:190:17:25

Michelle dug deeper and found the fake prize con men were making

0:17:250:17:29

so-called "sucker lists", of people who are responsive to their cons.

0:17:290:17:34

Ray had found his way onto several of these lists

0:17:340:17:37

and they were being freely traded on the internet.

0:17:370:17:41

He's on a mailing lists that cover over 55s,

0:17:410:17:44

he's on mailing lists that cover people who are guaranteed to respond

0:17:440:17:48

to prize draws - clairvoyants, health products -

0:17:480:17:54

all that type of thing.

0:17:540:17:56

He's probably on about ten to 15 lists at the moment.

0:17:560:17:59

Even faced with Michelle's evidence, Ray at first refused to believe it.

0:17:590:18:04

He was in the grip of an addiction and the con men knew it.

0:18:040:18:09

It took him six months from me initially speaking to him.

0:18:090:18:13

He actually avoided me for three months.

0:18:140:18:16

But finally, Michelle knew all her work hadn't been in vain.

0:18:160:18:21

At last, she had got through to him.

0:18:210:18:24

I found out when I came home from work and I saw Ray

0:18:240:18:27

ripping up loads of mail and putting it in his wheelie bin

0:18:270:18:30

and I could have given him a big cuddle and kissed him,

0:18:300:18:33

because it was just such a relief that he had actually woken up to it.

0:18:330:18:37

It was destroying him,

0:18:400:18:41

you know, emotionally and financially.

0:18:410:18:45

He was rushing out and meeting the postman in the morning.

0:18:450:18:48

It took him two months to sort out mail that he had got over Christmas.

0:18:500:18:55

It's... It's just horrendous.

0:18:550:18:59

He now realises he has been scammed and has got to deal with that.

0:19:050:19:09

But he has got to deal with the constant reminder every single day,

0:19:090:19:14

because the post is still coming.

0:19:140:19:15

This is roughly two-and-a-half weeks - mail that I get over a two-and-a-half week period.

0:19:150:19:21

Michelle worked tirelessly to clear Ray

0:19:210:19:24

from the fakers' mailing lists, but with little success.

0:19:240:19:29

They are not regulated by any of the UK laws, so therefore they don't

0:19:290:19:33

have to take any notice of you and, at the end of the day,

0:19:330:19:36

they know what they are doing is wrong.

0:19:360:19:38

They are scammers and they are not going to stop. And there's nothing you can do to stop that post coming.

0:19:380:19:43

Ray, of course, never won the money to take Paula on their dream trip

0:19:430:19:48

to the Canadian Rockies.

0:19:480:19:50

In fact, he lost their life savings.

0:19:500:19:53

But he managed to come to his senses before he lost Paula.

0:19:530:19:56

I nearly lost the wife, that would be the biggest mistake of my life.

0:19:570:20:00

I wanted to take her on that trip and I can't.

0:20:020:20:04

I have no money... Not enough money any more, it's all gone.

0:20:040:20:08

So what I'm trying to say to anybody who cares to listen, don't do it.

0:20:080:20:13

It's not worth it.

0:20:130:20:15

I'd been married 50 years

0:20:150:20:17

and then nearly made the biggest mistake of my life.

0:20:170:20:20

As Ray's beginning to rebuild his life with Paula,

0:20:240:20:27

he's leaving nothing to chance.

0:20:270:20:30

And he's hoping others can learn from his mistakes.

0:20:310:20:33

Now, I'm very happy to be relieved that I'm not going to do it again.

0:20:330:20:39

I know it. I'm angry I lost my money, very angry,

0:20:390:20:42

but there's nothing I can do about that.

0:20:420:20:45

Me money's gone. I'll never get a penny of it back, but...

0:20:450:20:49

Our money.

0:20:500:20:52

Sorry, I'll rephrase that, "our money".

0:20:520:20:54

That's correct, it is our money and...I've lost that.

0:20:540:20:59

Mary, thanks for joining me today.

0:21:040:21:06

You're the founder of Think Jessica. Tell me why.

0:21:060:21:09

Well, my mother was called Jessica and she died in 2007.

0:21:090:21:13

For the last five years of her life,

0:21:130:21:15

she was hounded by criminals sending scam letters -

0:21:150:21:19

letters from so-called officials telling her that she had won lotteries,

0:21:190:21:22

letters from clairvoyant telling her that to clear this bad luck, she had to send cash.

0:21:220:21:27

She believed they were genuine and that she just wouldn't stop from responding with cash.

0:21:270:21:32

You said this was going on for five years, you were obviously aware of it. Why didn't you get it stopped?

0:21:320:21:37

There was nowhere to go for help.

0:21:370:21:38

I went to every charity, went to the police. I contacted Royal Mail.

0:21:380:21:42

-I went everywhere, but nobody would help.

-What was the end result?

0:21:420:21:46

I believe the scam mail did contribute to her death.

0:21:460:21:50

The clairvoyants told her that there was an evil force on a higher plain

0:21:500:21:54

and my mother believed that something evil was upstairs.

0:21:540:21:57

She couldn't go upstairs without having panic attacks and she collapsed.

0:21:570:22:00

I mean I genuinely believe that the scam mail contributed to my mother's death.

0:22:000:22:05

How much did your mum get taken for?

0:22:050:22:06

Probably, we estimate, it could have been up to £50,000.

0:22:060:22:11

But because she was sending it in all various ways -

0:22:110:22:13

postal orders, cash, whichever way she could,

0:22:130:22:16

we can't put an exact figure on it. But all we can say is that,

0:22:160:22:20

for the last five years of her life, she was sending them everything she'd got.

0:22:200:22:23

The answer seems obvious to me - why aren't the Post Office stopping it at source?

0:22:230:22:28

Well, the Royal Mail have a legal obligation to deliver all addressed mail,

0:22:280:22:33

and that is something that is being looked at at the moment.

0:22:330:22:37

What should people do if they know of someone, or think they know somebody, who is being scammed?

0:22:370:22:42

Well, you've got to talk about it.

0:22:420:22:45

We've got to raise the awareness so people think they're not special -

0:22:450:22:48

they think, "Just a minute, I'm one of millions that is being suckered into this."

0:22:480:22:53

So getting round there, talking about it, possibly contacting us

0:22:530:22:57

via the Think Jessica website. Just don't keep quiet.

0:22:570:23:01

Would you have a personal message for these scammers?

0:23:010:23:04

I think if they could see the devastation that they cause

0:23:040:23:08

and elderly people that are now actually homeless,

0:23:080:23:11

have lost their homes, because of scam mail, then I think...

0:23:110:23:17

are they human? What sort of people can do this?

0:23:170:23:20

I mean, they're targeting the most vulnerable and it's very...

0:23:200:23:23

it's cruel, very cruel.

0:23:230:23:25

Later, the fake faith healer who pushed his victims to the edge.

0:23:300:23:34

I could never forgive him for what he put me through.

0:23:340:23:39

And how one retired businessman died in poverty, thanks to fake investments.

0:23:390:23:45

This is a real nasty crime.

0:23:450:23:48

You'll never meet the people who did it to you.

0:23:480:23:51

You'll just know that somebody out there is enjoying your money.

0:23:510:23:56

In some communities, people with problems turn to faith healers

0:24:010:24:05

for help, whether it be with family, finance or even fertility.

0:24:050:24:09

But some faith healers aren't that interested in supporting people

0:24:090:24:12

through their difficult times by drawing on their faith and their religion.

0:24:120:24:16

Oh, no. They're interested in something completely different,

0:24:160:24:19

and you've guessed it - it's their money.

0:24:190:24:22

The Asian community is one built on strong family bonds and also

0:24:250:24:29

a strong sense of privacy, but sometimes these can be exploited.

0:24:290:24:33

One woman agreed to tell us how the fakers took control of her world

0:24:340:24:38

when her parents tried to force her into an arranged marriage.

0:24:380:24:42

She wants to remain anonymous.

0:24:420:24:44

We'll call her Alisha, but that's not her real name.

0:24:440:24:48

It was something I would never agree to.

0:24:480:24:51

I met someone while I was at college

0:24:510:24:53

and I was just hoping

0:24:530:24:55

that between us we'd both be able to convince our families.

0:24:550:24:59

Unfortunately, that's not what happened.

0:24:590:25:02

My family found out about our relationship

0:25:020:25:05

and completely went berserk over it.

0:25:050:25:07

There was nowhere for me to go.

0:25:070:25:10

There was a lot of abuse - physical, mental,

0:25:100:25:13

and it's got to a point I couldn't actually deal with the situation.

0:25:130:25:17

I was suicidal.

0:25:170:25:20

'Alisha had limited contact with her boyfriend and was desperate.

0:25:210:25:26

'She turned to her friend for help.'

0:25:260:25:28

She was quite concerned for my mental health and was quite concerned about the situation I was in.

0:25:280:25:34

I was getting death threats from my brother, constantly.

0:25:340:25:38

'The friend suggested she went to a faith healer.

0:25:380:25:41

'These are people that try to solve problems

0:25:410:25:43

'from their religious faith

0:25:430:25:45

'and are commonly used within the Asian community.

0:25:450:25:48

'Alisha felt she had run out of options, and this advert caught her eye.

0:25:500:25:54

'Peer Syed Sahib claimed to have a 100% success rate

0:25:540:25:59

'and was only charging £50 -

0:25:590:26:02

'a small price to have her life back.'

0:26:020:26:04

When I spoke to him,

0:26:040:26:05

he was able to tell me that I wasn't the first person in this situation.

0:26:050:26:10

I wasn't the first person who had turned to him for help

0:26:100:26:13

and I took some comfort in his words.

0:26:130:26:17

I felt that perhaps this is the answer.

0:26:170:26:19

Peer Syed Sahib asked for a selection of photos

0:26:200:26:23

to allow him "to focus on the source of her problems."

0:26:230:26:26

When I sent him the photographs and the £50, he'd come back

0:26:260:26:30

and said, "This is not a problem for me.

0:26:300:26:34

"I can resolve this. Your family will be fine.

0:26:340:26:37

"I can take all your problems away."

0:26:370:26:39

'But soon he was asking for more money. A lot more money.'

0:26:400:26:45

I was in a very desperate situation.

0:26:450:26:48

I don't know how things could be worse for me at the time.

0:26:480:26:52

So I took a loan out and sent him the £4,000.

0:26:520:26:54

Without the support of her boyfriend,

0:26:560:26:58

she was in a dangerous situation.

0:26:580:27:00

Despite the threats and violence from her family,

0:27:000:27:04

Alisha was advised by Peer Syed Sahib not to leave home.

0:27:040:27:08

I was constantly being beaten up. I was being threatened.

0:27:080:27:12

I was having death threats.

0:27:120:27:14

I was being threatened that I would be killed and scattered around the countryside.

0:27:140:27:19

All the time - it was all the time. It never stopped.

0:27:190:27:24

At Sandwell Trading Standards,

0:27:290:27:31

a number of complaints about faith healers had begun to trickle in.

0:27:310:27:35

We first became aware of Peer Syed Sahib

0:27:350:27:38

in late 2007

0:27:380:27:41

when we received a complaint from a middle-aged couple who had been

0:27:410:27:45

trying to have a child for some considerable time.

0:27:450:27:48

They had exhausted all the medical avenues

0:27:480:27:50

and they were still unable to have a child so, in desperation,

0:27:500:27:54

'they saw an advert for this faith healer, Peer Syed Sahib,

0:27:540:27:58

'and they turned to him.'

0:27:580:28:00

And then he asked for...?

0:28:000:28:02

2,200? Really?

0:28:020:28:04

We have to make it clear that there's no law in this country against being a faith healer.

0:28:040:28:08

'People hold many faiths in the UK and we have freedom of expression.

0:28:080:28:14

'What we had to really decide in this case,

0:28:140:28:16

'whether Peer Syed Sahib was using the faith healer angle

0:28:160:28:21

'as a vehicle through which to perpetuate his crime.'

0:28:210:28:24

It was the high value that Peer Syed Sahib

0:28:240:28:27

put on his services, along with the sweeping promises,

0:28:270:28:30

that gave Trading Standards cause for concern.

0:28:300:28:34

This is the advert to which our complainants responded.

0:28:340:28:37

As you can see, he guarantees results in less than a week.

0:28:370:28:41

100% guarantee of results in a week.

0:28:410:28:44

One case, I think he said he needed to go to India

0:28:440:28:47

to go up a mountain and make prayers.

0:28:470:28:49

Presumably he would have used the money to buy his ticket.

0:28:490:28:52

That's the sort of thing we're talking about,

0:28:520:28:54

whether that amounted to £16,000 - we said that it didn't.

0:28:540:28:58

The team decided to do a test purchase

0:29:000:29:02

to see if he backed up his guarantees.

0:29:020:29:05

They secretly recorded a conversation.

0:29:050:29:07

'Salam?'

0:29:070:29:10

'Hello? Yes, Peer Syed Sahib?'

0:29:100:29:12

'Who's phoning?'

0:29:120:29:13

'Mr Matush.'

0:29:130:29:16

'How can I help you?'

0:29:160:29:18

'I just need your advice.'

0:29:180:29:19

Later, the fake faith healer turns out to be not all he seems.

0:29:200:29:25

He was living a rather lavish lifestyle.

0:29:250:29:29

You don't live where he lives unless you've got a serious amount of money.

0:29:290:29:33

As a child, Lorna Rapley spent most of her free time

0:29:420:29:44

working her father's market garden to the north of Liverpool.

0:29:440:29:49

This is the three-bay greenhouse.

0:29:490:29:52

We spent a lot of time digging channels under here

0:29:520:29:54

and put heating under here

0:29:540:29:56

and we used to have a woodchip burning stove here to heat it.

0:29:560:30:00

But as you can see, it's now quite well overgrown with bramble.

0:30:000:30:05

Evenings after school were often spent sowing, planting and potting.

0:30:050:30:10

We've spent many a day and night in here and it didn't matter

0:30:100:30:13

whether it was summer or winter.

0:30:130:30:15

There was lighting in here.

0:30:150:30:18

And we just got on with the work.

0:30:180:30:20

So it was quite interesting, growing all the things that we grew.

0:30:200:30:24

A lot of hard work but it was pretty to look at at one time. Not like now.

0:30:240:30:28

Lorna's dad Alfred Mason had built a thriving business.

0:30:300:30:34

But when he retired,

0:30:340:30:35

he lost all his money, thanks to fake investments and fake shares.

0:30:350:30:39

'The con involves fake financial advisers cold-calling investors.

0:30:410:30:45

'The victims are pressurised into buying shares with the promise

0:30:450:30:49

'of high returns, but they usually turn out to be worthless.

0:30:490:30:53

'It's called "the boiler house con," and that's because of the high-pressure selling involved -

0:30:530:30:59

'tactics their victims are often completely unused to.'

0:30:590:31:02

What you're walking on here are plant pots, plastic plant pots.

0:31:020:31:09

He didn't bother throwing them away.

0:31:090:31:11

This is where we planted primroses...

0:31:110:31:15

..polyanthus, pansies, daisies - all the bedding plants we grew here.

0:31:170:31:22

And this looked beautiful. It was just a mass of colour.

0:31:220:31:27

When I think of all the hours of work that we had to put in

0:31:290:31:32

on this place to keep it going, and how it's just gone to this mess,

0:31:320:31:38

it's heartbreaking.

0:31:380:31:40

An entrepreneur in his working life, in his retirement,

0:31:400:31:44

Alfred was open to the enticing deals that the scammers were offering,

0:31:440:31:47

and the way that they were offering them.

0:31:470:31:49

He did like to give advice. He liked to feel important.

0:31:490:31:54

He liked people to go to him for advice.

0:31:540:31:57

He liked to talk to people very much. He was...

0:31:570:32:01

He didn't necessarily like to talk with people -

0:32:020:32:06

he liked to teach people things.

0:32:060:32:08

And so I suppose that's one of the reasons why these scams

0:32:100:32:14

that he got into appealed to him so much, because these people

0:32:140:32:19

would phone him and would be prepared to listen to him.

0:32:190:32:23

And, if one deal went wrong, Alfred wasn't necessarily put off.

0:32:230:32:28

If he started to become aware that he was losing money,

0:32:280:32:31

he probably wanted to make it back.

0:32:310:32:35

So, as he lost money with one company,

0:32:350:32:39

he would then invest in another company,

0:32:390:32:42

hoping to make back his losses.

0:32:420:32:44

Probably not realising the second company was another scam.

0:32:440:32:48

So, he just lost more and more, all the time.

0:32:480:32:52

One of the companies that Alfred was persuaded to invest in

0:32:530:32:56

was Almena Properties.

0:32:560:32:58

They said they owned land around the Olympic site in London,

0:32:580:33:02

and that its value was likely to rocket.

0:33:020:33:04

The conmen had published glossy brochures

0:33:040:33:07

and gave the impression they were based in the City of London.

0:33:070:33:11

One of the officers on the case was DCI Dave Clark

0:33:110:33:14

from the City of London Police.

0:33:140:33:17

The buyer himself in this case, was actually out in Spain,

0:33:170:33:20

'in the Barcelona area,

0:33:200:33:22

'with strong links back to the UK, to give that air of legitimacy,'

0:33:220:33:27

that the business exists within the UK,

0:33:270:33:30

and to give people the confidence that they are actually investing in a UK business.

0:33:300:33:35

Having paid £40,000 into this scam, Lorna's dad Alfred

0:33:350:33:38

got in contact with the police. But the fake investment had left him

0:33:380:33:43

with little money for looking after his home.

0:33:430:33:45

He just lost interest completely, and he wouldn't allow me to come

0:33:450:33:49

and help him at all. He wouldn't allow me, because there was nowhere for me to stay.

0:33:490:33:53

He wouldn't let me in the house. He was ashamed of this.

0:33:530:33:57

And he was ashamed of the house. And it looks very nice on the outside,

0:33:570:34:01

and everybody thinks, "Oh, what a lovely house."

0:34:010:34:03

But if they could only see what it was like inside.

0:34:030:34:06

Later, we see what sort of life Alfred had been reduced to,

0:34:070:34:11

as he lost more and more money to the fakers.

0:34:110:34:14

This was his kitchen.

0:34:140:34:16

He had all of his pots and pans and plates and cups...

0:34:160:34:20

and mouse droppings inside of them.

0:34:200:34:23

After rejecting an arranged marriage

0:34:280:34:31

and having threats from her family,

0:34:310:34:34

Alisha paid a faith healer to help her.

0:34:340:34:36

I felt that I was trapped,

0:34:360:34:38

that I had given all the money

0:34:380:34:40

and I wanted something back in return, so I couldn't back out now.

0:34:400:34:44

I had invested time and money.

0:34:440:34:46

I felt that continuing with him was the only option I had.

0:34:460:34:50

Meanwhile, Sandwell Trading Standards were trying to

0:34:500:34:54

gather evidence that the faith healer was

0:34:540:34:56

abusing his position of trust and conning his victims.

0:34:560:35:00

They recorded his claims.

0:35:000:35:01

'I can see you guarantee 100 % results in less than a week.'

0:35:010:35:07

'Yes.'

0:35:070:35:09

Alisha had already paid him thousands of pounds to try

0:35:100:35:13

to get her out of her arranged marriage.

0:35:130:35:16

There was the big part of me that knew I couldn't get anything from this person,

0:35:160:35:19

but I just wanted to believe that things were going to be OK for me.

0:35:190:35:23

I didn't know what else to hang on to, I didn't know where else to go.

0:35:230:35:27

As Alisha's life fell apart, so did her finances.

0:35:270:35:32

All this money came from credit cards, loans,

0:35:320:35:35

anything I could get, I applied for. So I was just completely drained.

0:35:350:35:40

My father was quite ill and suffered a series of heart attacks.

0:35:400:35:44

He was in a coma in hospital.

0:35:440:35:47

I obviously wanted to see him.

0:35:470:35:50

When I went to the hospital, I was blamed for him being in that state.

0:35:500:35:54

So, that was my fault, and I wasn't allowed to spend any time with him.

0:35:540:35:58

Forbidden from saying goodbye to her dying father,

0:35:590:36:02

Alisha was only left

0:36:020:36:03

with one option.

0:36:030:36:06

I just left. I just took a single bag and I left.

0:36:060:36:08

I didn't know where I was going.

0:36:080:36:10

I didn't have any money,

0:36:100:36:12

I didn't know what I was doing.

0:36:120:36:14

I did send one final text to the faith-healer

0:36:140:36:17

saying how badly he had let me down, how disappointed I was,

0:36:170:36:20

and how I could never forgive him for what he put me through.

0:36:200:36:25

In fact, trading standards had just arrested Peer Syed Sahib.

0:36:250:36:29

It turned out he wasn't an elderly religious leader at all...

0:36:290:36:33

but was Niem Mohammed, and he was born in Liverpool, and at his house,

0:36:330:36:39

were some of the riches that Alisha's debts had paid for.

0:36:390:36:42

These are photos that were taken on the day

0:36:420:36:45

that we raided his property.

0:36:450:36:48

This shows the extent of the gentleman's wealth.

0:36:480:36:52

So, here we have a Louis Vuitton storage box.

0:36:520:36:54

Here we have a view of the bedroom which shows just about every

0:36:540:36:58

designer perfume that you could possibly wish to possess.

0:36:580:37:02

A nice, big television with a DVD sound-system, Sky,

0:37:020:37:06

there's his nice Bentley.

0:37:060:37:09

His nice Ferrari. He was obviously making some money somewhere.

0:37:090:37:14

There's his personal stash of cigars,

0:37:140:37:17

complete with storage box, humidifier.

0:37:170:37:19

We also found plenty of champagne.

0:37:190:37:22

I think we had an inclination that he was living a rather lavish lifestyle.

0:37:220:37:29

You don't live where he lives

0:37:290:37:30

unless you have a serious amount of money.

0:37:300:37:33

Niem Mohammed was prosecuted at Wolverhampton Crown Court

0:37:330:37:37

and Alisha came face to face with the man

0:37:370:37:40

whose fake claims had ruined her life.

0:37:400:37:43

Seeing him was very difficult.

0:37:430:37:45

He didn't look anything like I had seen him initially.

0:37:450:37:49

When I was in court, when I was in the box, he was there.

0:37:490:37:53

He just didn't seem to care at all.

0:37:530:37:56

And he was still taking calls from clients who were seeking

0:37:560:38:00

spiritual help, while he was in court.

0:38:000:38:03

Niem Mohammed was sentenced to 18 months in prison,

0:38:030:38:07

but his affect on Alisha will be longer lasting.

0:38:070:38:11

On an emotional level, I find it very, very difficult to trust people.

0:38:110:38:16

Financially, I have struggled to make ends meet

0:38:160:38:19

and that's when it hurts even more.

0:38:190:38:21

I do get angry that I have wasted two years of my life like that.

0:38:210:38:27

I just hope this person will never be able to do what he's done again.

0:38:290:38:34

But a part of me feels sad that I know that he is still capable of it.

0:38:340:38:39

And I know there isn't much out there anyone can do

0:38:390:38:42

to stop vulnerable people from falling into that trap.

0:38:420:38:47

Lorna Rapley's father Alfred Mason lost £40,000 to a con

0:38:560:39:01

involving fake shares in a property company.

0:39:010:39:05

The criminals responsible were based in Spain.

0:39:070:39:11

The police raided them and arrested four people.

0:39:110:39:13

They even found scripts that guided the con men on how to coax

0:39:130:39:17

the most money from their victims.

0:39:170:39:20

It's a callous, faceless way of doing business.

0:39:200:39:23

They hide behind the computer, they hide behind a false identity,

0:39:230:39:27

and they hide behind Skype telephone lines that they think

0:39:270:39:30

they're safe to use and cannot be traced on, so to me, it is...

0:39:300:39:34

they are heartless, absolutely heartless and callous.

0:39:340:39:38

Adrian Davison, who led the gang was sentenced to seven years

0:39:380:39:42

in prison with others receiving terms of around two to three years.

0:39:420:39:46

But the property swindle was only part of Alfred's story.

0:39:460:39:50

Back home, Lorna delved deeper into her father's correspondence.

0:39:500:39:55

These are contract notes that Dad has paid for shares,

0:39:550:40:00

and, I mean, they just mount up.

0:40:000:40:03

There's £2,000 on this particular transaction.

0:40:030:40:08

Here, £3,500. There's one here for £6,260.

0:40:080:40:14

She eventually discovered that her dad had lost his entire

0:40:140:40:19

life savings of over £800,000 to different fake investments.

0:40:190:40:25

When it is all in one place like this,

0:40:250:40:28

and it's all compacted, you feel very...

0:40:280:40:31

You get more of a sense of an impact of what has actually happened.

0:40:310:40:36

Having lost all of his money, Alfred was secretly living in squalor.

0:40:360:40:41

This is where Dad was sleeping before he had to go into hospital.

0:40:430:40:49

You can see where he's been sitting, he eroded the mould away,

0:40:490:40:52

but the mould is there.

0:40:520:40:55

And underneath it all, mouse droppings. Yes, he knew.

0:40:550:41:02

He knew they were there.

0:41:020:41:04

But he just didn't bother to do anything about them.

0:41:040:41:06

Lorna later discovered he had also been sleeping in his car,

0:41:080:41:11

because he didn't even have the money left to heat his house.

0:41:110:41:15

He had all his pots and pans and plates and cups...

0:41:160:41:20

and mouse droppings inside of them. There was mouse droppings everywhere.

0:41:200:41:26

I haven't actually cleared this up.

0:41:260:41:28

The hall floor was covered in mouse droppings

0:41:280:41:31

and bits of chewed up newspaper.

0:41:310:41:33

But this was his kitchen.

0:41:330:41:35

Lorna's dad eventually died of cancer,

0:41:370:41:39

before seeing the con men brought to justice.

0:41:390:41:42

She's now beginning to clear out her family home.

0:41:420:41:45

We'd like to do it up somehow, and rent it.

0:41:450:41:48

I think that's what we'd like to do.

0:41:480:41:51

But, you know, how many years that'll take, I don't know,

0:41:510:41:54

because it will need a lot of time and money spending on it.

0:41:540:41:57

What should have been her own restful retirement is now being

0:41:580:42:02

spent dealing with the impact of her dad's fake investments.

0:42:020:42:07

Dad lost his trust in people. I've lost my trust in people.

0:42:070:42:12

This is a real, nasty crime that is vindictive and personal

0:42:120:42:18

and embarrassing.

0:42:180:42:20

And you lose such a lot from it.

0:42:200:42:25

We'll never get it back. You'll never meet the people who did it to you.

0:42:250:42:30

You'll just know that somebody out there is enjoying your money.

0:42:300:42:34

If we can stop people making that mistake,

0:42:350:42:38

that would be a fantastic legacy that my dad has left.

0:42:380:42:42

That's all from Fake Britain today. Bye for now.

0:42:520:42:55

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:43:170:43:20

Email [email protected]

0:43:200:43:23

We reveal the distressing story of how Alfred Mason's daughter Lorna discovered that her father had lost his entire life savings of £800,000 after falling victim to conmen selling fake investments - and how she found he had ended up living in squalor.

We follow police and trading standards officers as they raid a suspected fake numberplates factory. We follow the work of the London Borough of Hillingdon's benefit fraud investigators as they search for fake claimants and discover a fraudster using fake ID.

And we follow the story of the young woman who was conned by the fake faith healer. He pretended to be a supportive advisor but was tracked down by local trading standards officers who discovered he charged huge fees and lived a lavish lifestyle at the expense of his victims. And we meet Raymond Kaye and his wife Paula from Hull and hear the story of how Ray's desperation to win the holiday of a lifetime to Canada for Paula, led to his addiction to a fake prizes scam. It cost him their savings and almost their marriage.


Download Subtitles

SRT

ASS