A fraudster who targeted and tried to swindle an elderly man has been jailed.

Josh Payne, of Maitland Park Villas in Chalk Farm, tried to carry out the con targeting an 89-year-old man who lived alone during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic in June 2020.

A group, including Payne, fraudulently called the victim living in Kingsbury, claiming to be the police informing him he was in possession of counterfeit money.

The caller asked the elderly man to empty his safe into a plastic bag outside his place and was told an undercover officer would come and collect it.

However a concerned carer found out about this and alerted neighbours of the scam, deciding to pretend to go ahead with it to catch the conman.

On June 21 that year, Payne arrived at the scene unaware of the set-up.

The 48-year-old was apprehended by a group of neighbours and was later arrested.

Two other men were then arrested as part of the investigation but were released with no further action.

Payne was charged with conspiracy to steal and found guilty at Isleworth Crown Court, where he was jailed for three years last Thursday (July 13).

Ham & High: Outside Isleworth Crown CourtOutside Isleworth Crown Court (Image: PA)

Detective Constable Sonia Darrington, who led the investigation, said: “John Payne thought nothing of swindling a vulnerable, elderly man and trying to steal his life savings.

“The action taken by concerned neighbours in this case has been truly inspirational. They have rallied around a vulnerable member of their community and put themselves in harm’s way to protect someone who could not protect himself.

“Together they apprehended Payne and prevented any money from being stolen.

“They have also supported the police investigation and provided a voice to the victim through court proceedings. The Judge commended their actions and so do I. It feels only right that they have received recognition for intervening and stopping a serious offence from occurring.”