Shekel-scam con­man­back on the trains

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY LEON SY­MONS

THE SHEKEL scam­mer has struck again. At least seven more peo­ple have fallen prey to the man whose pat­ter has sep­a­rated Jewish trav­ellers from their money.

How­ever, Bri­tish Trans­port Po­lice hinted this week that they were step­ping up their ef­forts to track down the man, who has wormed his way into the con­fi­dence of Jewish Lon­don Un­der­ground pas­sen­gers.

He spins them a sob story about a sick rel­a­tive, ei­ther a mother or child, and tells them that he has to fly back to Is­rael that day and needs to change shekels for pounds. He has used sev­eral names and has given false con­tact in­for­ma­tion.

BTP act­ing De­tec­tive Chief In­spec­tor Ja­son Bun­yard said: “We have re­viewed closed cir­cuit television from trains and sta­tions and spo­ken to wit­nesses who have given us some very de­tailed in­for­ma­tion, which is as­sist­ing our in­ves­ti­ga­tion.”

One of two vic­tims, who wished to re­main anony­mous said: “He asked me about train times, then told me he was from Jerusalem and that I looked Is­raeli, which isn’t true, al­though I do have slight Jewish an­ces­try and there­fore got com­pletely taken in by him and felt obliged to help.”

The sec­ond per­son to fall vic­tim this week was a stu­dent, who handed over £60 to the man. Last week, the JC was told that the man had prised cash from five more peo­ple.

There is a his­tory of trick­sters who have tar­geted the Jewish com­mu­nity.

Last year, an 85-year-old Jewish man in Mill Hill was conned out of cash twice by a man who said he had lost his keys and needed to go to the Mid­lands.

In 2005, Barnet po­lice smashed a £5 mil­lion postal fraud ring which ex­tracted money mainly from the Ortho­dox com­mu­nity in Gold­ers Green.

And in 2004, Is­raeli for­mer taxi driver Moshe Zfaty was jailed for three years and four months at Har­row Crown Court for eight bur­glary and de­cep­tion charges af­ter he used re­li­gious garb and lan­guage to trick Jews in Hen­don and Gold­ers Green. He was told he would be de­ported at the end of his sen­tence.

In 2003 South Har­row po­lice in­ves­ti­gated three sep­a­rate re­ports of a man with an Ortho­dox ap­pear­ance try­ing to scam money from peo­ple in Stan­more. The bearded man, who wore a kip­pah and black coat, was claim­ing he had ar­rived from the US with his fam­ily, and was short of money for his wife’s doc­tor’s bill.

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