Search

Former Hampstead politician enjoys night at the opera at conman’s expense

PUBLISHED: 10:29 06 December 2012 | UPDATED: 11:29 06 December 2012

Hampstead writer and former MEP William Hopper was swindled in a  phone scam but he ended up £300 in profit

Hampstead writer and former MEP William Hopper was swindled in a phone scam but he ended up £300 in profit

© Nigel Sutton email pictures@nigelsuttonphotography.com

A former politician and acclaimed author from Hampstead finished £300 better off after his brush with a gang of conmen who looted his exclusive bank account.

William Hopper, an ex-Member of the European Parliament (MEP), among the latest to fall foul of a complex fraud which has blighted the borough and cost banks millions of pounds.

But unlike his fellow victims, the 83-year-old enjoyed two trips to the theatre and one sortie to the opera at the conmen’s expense.

The swindlers plundered £1,000 from the former MEP’s account at Coutts private bank – but not before handing over £300 in cash to Mr Hopper to cover his immediate spending.

The former investment banker, who has lived in Flask Walk for 20 years, said: “I ended up £300 better off and humorously hoping the same thing would happen to me every day.

“I decided it was not taxable since I was the beneficiary of a fraud and it would not come under income tax.

“Although I was embarrassed at falling for it, I ended up £300 up which cheered me up no end.”

The author, who is currently penning a sequel to his highly-respected work The Puritan Gift, also recovered the £1,000 from his bank.

More than 100 elderly and vulnerable people across Camden have been hit by the scam losing hundreds of thousands of pounds, with a 92-year-old and a cerebral palsy sufferer among the victims.

The conmen contact their targets masquerading as police or bank fraud investigators, alerting them to an alleged fraud on their account.

They ask the victims to call their bank using the number on their card.But when the victims put the phone down the conmen do not hang up, leaving the line open – and then pose as bank staff, persuading the victims to reveal their PIN and other information.

The gang then send a courier to the victim’s address to collect their bank cards and empty their accounts.

Mr Hopper, who helped found the Institute of Fiscal Studies, was defrauded in September when he was persuaded to hand over his bank cards. When he called the fraudsters the following day to request some spending money, the scammers sent him a stack of 15 used £20 bank notes to spin out the confidence trick.

Mr Hopper said: “These people are intelligently evil and they use that intelligence in this acting and deceit.”

A special police unit in Camden has made dozens of arrests in relation to the fraud, but officers warn it will be a “complex crusade”.

Police recently seized a Ferrari in Camden after officers swooped on three men suspected of masterminding a similar scam worth £56,000.

Det Con Alex Stavrou said: “We have made arrests and we’re trying to link as many cases as we can to the gangs who have been lifted.”

Comments have been disabled on this article.

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

Yesterday, 16:50

The Chalcots towers are not safe for residents and building inspectors were wrong to sign off fire safety work, an independent expert has said.

Yesterday, 16:19

A podiatrist who harassed a surgeon with 400 letters describing their fantasy marriage has been struck off the medical register.

Yesterday, 14:35

A crowdfunding campaign raising money for an elevated park has been backed by the Mayor of London.

Yesterday, 12:39

The Really Big Pants Theatre called on kids to take inspiration from their production of ‘Suddenly’ by writing a story - here is an extract from the winner, eight-year-old Tilly from Gospel Oak Primary School.

Yesterday, 11:07

Building work at a site where a man was killed following an explosion has restarted before the official investigation has concluded.

Wed, 18:31

Two moped muggers described by a judge as “personal crime waves” have been sentenced to more than three years detention.

Wed, 17:44

Neighbours in Primrose Hill are urging people to oppose plans for a new “mega basement”, at the former home of Hollywood stars Aaron and Sam Taylor-Johnson.

Wed, 16:51

East Finchley schoolchildren descended on Whitehall to protest against their loss of access to libraries in Barnet borough.

PROMOTED CONTENT

Navigating divorce or separation when there are children involved can be emotionally difficult and confusing for everyone involved. Here, Jessica Palmer of Streathers Solicitors in Hampstead, offers answers to commonly asked questions

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now