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Courier fraudster foiled by world-renowned philosopher from Primrose Hill

13:15 19 August 2014

Blackfriars Crown Court

Blackfriars Crown Court

Archant

A fraudster is facing jail after a bungled attempt to dupe a world-renowned philosopher into handing over his bank cards.

Nishathur Chowdhury was arrested at the Primrose Hill home of Professor Jonathan Glover, a best-selling author and leading moral philosopher, who alerted police after realising he was being “taken for a ride”.

By the time Chowdhury, 28, arrived at the philosopher’s house in Chalcot Square – posing as a courier sent by the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) – plain clothes police officers were waiting to pounce.

Chowdhury was convicted of one count of fraud at Blackfriars Crown Court on Thursday.

The distinguished academic’s suspicions had been aroused by a series of bogus telephone calls purporting to be from a police officer and RBS on July 17 last year.

The calls followed the usual pattern for courier fraud cases, in which swindlers attempt to persuade elderly or vulnerable people to hand over their bank cards.

First a man calling himself Peter Vikram and claiming to be a police officer rang to say a credit card belonging to Professor Glover, who is in his 70s, had been cloned, the court heard.

When he rang RBS to check, the story was confirmed by someone called Martin Cole, who told him to cut the card in half and wait for a courier to collect it.

However, the first caller had kept the line open – so Professor Glover did not get through to RBS and was, in fact, speaking to the same person or an associate.

“There was something fairly peculiar about the dialling tone, it didn’t sound absolutely normal,” the University College London professor told the court.

“The voice of Martin Cole sounded very close to the person I had previously been talking to, believing that they were a policeman.

“That set off slightly worried notes in my mind.

“I was in a half-suspicious, half-naive state.

“I was slowly waking up to the bit of crookedness that had been perpetrated on me.”

Chowdhury arrived at his house about two hours after the original call and introduced himself as Peter Vikram, Professor Glover said.

By this time, though, police had been called and were waiting nearby. They surrounded Chowdhury and arrested him.

“He slipped up – Peter Vikram was supposed to be the name of the police officer that spoke to me and this person was supposed to be the courier,” added Professor Glover.

At the time of his arrest, Chowdhury was carrying a scrap of paper with the professor’s name and address handwritten on it.

However, Chowdhury, of The Salvation Army Hostel, Great Peter Street, Victoria, insisted he did not know how the details got there.

He claimed he was simply looking for a friend when he went to Professor Glover’s front door.

Chowdhury said: “I never wrote nothing on that paper – I never had a pen to write anything on it...

“I never went to do no crime that day, I was a law-abiding citizen since my last cannabis conviction.”

He was found guilty and will be sentenced in October.

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