AN IRVINESTOWN man is among four men accused of posing as police officers to scam pensioners out of tens of thousands of pounds.
The men were apprehended last week after being intercepted by police helicopter.
William McGinley (32) of Sally’s Wood has been charged with one count of fraud by false representation in connection to an alleged incident in which a pensioner was persuaded to hand over £40,000 to people posing as police who claimed her husband had been mugged.
Belfast Magistrates Court heard last week it was suspected the 65-year-old woman was duped as part of a wider gang operation targeting people from the phone book.
The court was told detectives believed the case as connected to a series of scams where 40 elderly or vulnerable people across the North were conned out of £150,000 cash and £20,000 jewellery.
Police alleged McGinley, who was apprehended with a number of other men was a “runner” for the gang.
At the bail hearing, police sad the woman was contacted on May 28 by a caller who claimed her husband had suffered a head injury in a serous assault and had been taken to their local police station.
It is claimed the caller, who was allegedly pretending to be a police officer, advised the woman it would be safer to get any money out of their house, and arrangements were made to bring £40,000 in cash to a meeting point outside a primary school on the Knockbreda Road.
A detective told the court McGinley was in a car with another person who got out and took the money from the woman.
However, the men weer under aerial surveillance by police and were detained when officers intervened. Police say they believe McGinley carried out reconnaissance at the rendezvous point, and said his role as “runner” was needed for the scam to work.
The court was also told the incident had had a serious impact on the woman with a detective stating “she has said she will never be the same again”.
It was also stated that police are linking the incident to a series of hundreds of calls over the past 18 months in which callers made claims a person was in danger or at risk of burglary.
A detective said there were 40 victims, and in total, £150,000 in cash had been taken.
McGinley was denied bail due to the risk of further offending or interfering with witnesses.
Three other men appeared in court in connection with the alleged incident with the 65-year-old woman.
Shea Reynolds (26) and Elijah Gavin (25) were also charged with one count of fraud by false representation, while Ray Lee (28) is faced with 40 counts of the same offence.
The men were connected to the charges at court. The defendants, whose addresses were not available in court, did not apply for bail.
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