FIVE suspected fraudsters have appeared in court accused of scamming pensioners ­– including a Darlington victim who lost £154,000.

Six people in Darlington, Durham, Newcastle, South Tyneside and West Yorkshire were identified by police as having been contacted by fraudsters purporting to be police officers.

In excess of £200,000 was handed over to the suspected fraudsters, with one victim from Darlington losing £154,000.

The incidents were all reported to police and expert fraud officers from the North East Regional Special Operations Unit (NERSOU) soon launched an investigation.

On October 21 last year, warrants were executed at properties in London, Warwickshire and the West Midlands and four suspects, two aged 18, and two aged 25, were arrested.

Another warrant was then executed in the West Midlands in January this year and a 22-year-old man arrested.

Further enquiries then identified a second man, aged 20, believed to be involved who was then interviewed in March.

The six suspects had initially been released under investigation, and five of which have now been charged with conspiring to commit fraud by false representation after appearing at Peterlee Magistrates’ Court on July 23.

They are due to appear at Teesside Crown Court on August 27.

A warrant was issued for the arrest of the sixth suspect who failed to attend the court.

Detective Constable Andy Thompson, the officer in charge of the case, said it is vital victims of fraud continue to challenge cold-callers and report anything suspicious to police.

“This is a great result for us but our work in detecting and preventing fraud is far from over,” he said.

“Sadly many people who find themselves caught up in a complex scam like courier fraud are often unaware they’ve been a victim.

“We would always encourage families to keep speaking with their elderly relatives and ask if anyone has called them out of the blue, or if they have recently withdrawn money or handed over any valuables.

“Help us to reinforce the message that police officers or your bank will never ask you to hand over money, or transfer funds. If you receive a call like this, do not interact - hang up and report it immediately.”

Work to tackle fraud remains ongoing with the Detectives from Northumbria, Durham and Cleveland Police working together with the North East Regional Special Operation Unit (NERSOU) as part of Operation Sentinel.

The Operation Lead, Detective Sergeant Shaun Fordy added: “We will continue to relentlessly pursue those who seek to scam the elderly, the vulnerable and the unsuspecting. Please help us by challenging and reporting cold-callers to help us build up our intelligence picture.

“And – if this does happen to you, please do not be embarrassed to contact us and ask for help.”

Keep up to date with all the latest news on our website, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

You can also follow our dedicated Darlington Facebook page for all the latest in the area by clicking here.

For all the top news updates from right across the region straight to your inbox, sign up to our newsletter here.

Have you got a story for us? Contact our newsdesk on or contact 01325 505054