Win £1,000 with Camelot. See this week's Ham & High

on sale 15th October

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

10:29 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

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.”

Latest News Stories

The Phoenix cinema in East Finchley is due to host a number of films for the UK Jewish Film Festival

Barnet Council has come under attack after becoming the only local authority in the country to charge a popular jewish film festival for screening their films.


Police have urged residents to make homes more secure after a spate of burglaries in Highgate and Dartmouth Park.

The London Ambulance Service has seen a significant rise in mental health calls

A significant spike in the number of emergency mental health calls received by the London Ambulance Service (LAS) has led it to employ specialist nurses in its call centre.

The tree has blocked the road south of the A1. Picture: MPSBarnet

Motorists are being advised to avoid The Bishops Avenue in Hampstead Garden Suburb due to a fallen tree.

Yesterday, 19:00
Travellers arriving at the Liddell Road industrial estate Picture by local resident, 'Jon'

Tory Party candidates claim travellers hurled rocks at them as they tried to take pictures of the site where they have set up home.

Yesterday, 17:27
Friends of Parkland walk  bramble bash campaign Pictured Alison Gardiner,Emma Walmsley,Robert Laslett,Dave Charie & Cathy Meeus

Volunteers armed themselves with shears to cut back brambles on a beloved nature reserve.

Yesterday, 15:53
Children's March for Barnet Libraries. Picture: Nigel Sutton

Campaigners have expressed their dismay as a new wave of cuts proposed by Barnet Council could see libraries left unmanned and forced to run largely by volunteers.

Yesterday, 12:00
Vet Allan Rapley with Highgate councillors Liz Morris and Clive Carter urge Haringey to clean up its act. Picture: Nigel Sutton

Residents and campaigners have spoken out against “Third World” piles of rubbish on Highgate High Street.

Most read news

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot


Angharad Baa Stool in Rare Breed.

Great British Life is offering a sheepskin footstool worth £199 to a lucky reader

Amazon: Everything you want to buy all in one place!

With £1,500 to spend online at Amazon, there’s really nothing you can’t buy.

You'll be stocked up on toiletries  for a while!

Cosmetics, toiletries, vitamins and more.

Digital Edition

Read the Hampstead & Highgate Express e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24

Local business directory

Our trusted business finder