Preston man whose elderly parents were defrauded through bogus credit card applications speaks as Lancashire residents lose £1.6m in a year to card fraudsters

The son of a dementia stricken couple who had more than 20 credit cards taken out in their names has urged consumers and credit agencies to be vigilant about bank frauds as figures show Lancashire victims incurred financial losses of £1.6 million.

Thursday, 20th May 2021, 4:03 pm

Serial criminal Syed Arfat Bukhari hit the headlines after selling the vulnerable couple's Fulwood home behind their backs - but had also committed other financial frauds against them after getting access to their personal details and finances.

In total he fleeced the elderly retired Merchant Navy officer and his wife out of £350,000 - more than £20,000 of which involved credit cards he had applied for using their details.

The couple's son, Graham Worsnopp, from Preston, said just one credit provider - ASDA - was suspicious enough to refuse an application that Bukhari purported to be from the man, in his 80s, despite more than 20 similar applications with other agencies, including cards linked to "pop up" bank accounts.

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Graham Worsnopp

He spoke as figures obtained by website MoneyTranfers.com show Lancashire Constabulary recorded 498 cases of cheque, plastic card and online bank account fraud from April 2020 to March 2021 amounting to £1.6m of losses.

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Mr Worsnopp said: "He stole their bank cards and got their PINs.

"He also took out credit cards in their names. He then either used them for cash withdrawals, taking out loans against them, or used them for fast living.

Syed Arfat Bukhari

"He had used cards in Dubai to rent fancy cars, pay for hotels, and to pay for hair transplants abroad.

"He had defrauded them of around £20,000 on cards alone."

" I appreciate it is difficult for banks to protect against things like this, but I think what disappointed me was it was far too easy for him when he was taking out multiple cards.

"We know on one occasion he took my dad into a bank branch in person to make an application and they smelt a rat because Dad had no bank account with them. But he simply rang up the bank instead and was able to make an application that way.

"They need to stick to their guns if they are suspicious.

"But improvements have been made since, a good thing now is that when I make a transaction online they send a verification code to my mobile phone.

"My parents obviously did not have a mobile phone at the time."

Plastic card fraud involves the compromise of any personal information from credit, debit or store cards.

The personal information stolen from a card, or the theft of a card itself, can be used to commit fraud.

Fraudsters might use the information to purchase goods in your name or obtain unauthorised funds from an account.

Data shows Lancashire ranked 21st out of 44 forces in the country in terms of cases of cheque, plastic card, and online bank account fraud cases between April 2020 and March 2021.

Overall, from 44 police forces in UK, there were 25,717 cases of cheque, plastic card, and online bank account fraud from April 2020 to March 2021 - with a staggering loss of £161,221,800 million.

Officers are continually fighting to prevent such cases and various organisations have been set up to assist them.

Bukhari, also known as Syed Arfan Bukhari Shah, 40, is serving seven years and 11 months for the fraud - which will be followed by a further five years and seven months for another fraud involving faking his own death to claim a £1m insurance payout.

On release he will also face strict controls over his banking, finances, where he lives or works, and his communication services under the terms of a five year Serious Crime Prevention Order.

In January, Lancashire detectives investigating a series of courier frauds have released a recording of a phone call, traced to London, in which a 75-year-old woman from Preston was contacted by an unknown man pretending to be a police officer.

He requested large sums of money and gold to be sent to him, claiming they were 'required as part of an ongoing police investigation'.

The vulnerable victim contacted the police suspecting she had been a victim of fraud, but had already handed over £60,000 to a "courier".

Officers attended the victim's address and prevented a further £50,000 from being transferred and also recovered £40,000 in gold.

A total of £259,067 of fraud in the county was stopped in the first half of 2020 through the Banking Protocol scheme, which enables bank staff to alert their local police force immediately when they suspect a customer is being scammed.

Six arrests were made through the scheme between January and June 2020.

One involved a 55-year-old man from St Annes who was arrested on suspicion of theft after concerns were raised about attempted cash withdrawal attempts by a man in his 70s.

In 2017, members of a Blackpool organised crime gang which stole more than £300,000 using fraudulently obtained credit cards were jailed.

The fraudsters posed as genuine account holders to order new debit and credit cards and PINs which they intercepted in the post and used to make fraudulent payments and cash withdrawals.

But the fraud was spotted by Lloyds Bank and Barclays and referred to the Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit (DCPCU), a specialist anti-fraud squad sponsored by the banking industry and made up of officers from the City of London Police and the Metropolitan Police Service, bank investigators and support staff from UK Finance.

Harrington Okorodudu, 47, of Ludlow Grove, Blackpool, got three and a half years, and Sunday Wilson, 51, of Crossland Road, Hawes Side, Blackpool, got three years.

Det Insp Mark Riley, of Lancashire Police, said: "These are unscrupulous offenders with no morals and are only interested in bringing misery.

" I would ask people to be extra vigilant at this time."

Protect yourself

- Your bank or the police will never call you to ask you to verify your personal details or PIN by phone or offer to pick up your card by courier. Hang up if you get a call like this.

- Your debit or credit card is yours - don’t let a stranger take it off you. You should only ever have to hand it over at your bank. If it’s cancelled, you should destroy it yourself.

- If you or someone you know has been a victim of fraud contact Action Fraud on 0300123 2040 or visit www.actionfraud.police.uk

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