Last Thursday 4 October at around 10:30am, a student at Imperial College London has had £70 taken by a confidence trickster.
The student, who wished to not be named, was approached by a man on the corner of Queen’s Gate Place. The man, who was on the phone at the time, asked if the student knew the area. The man was described by the student as middle-aged with white/dark hair, is in his 40s, and was well dressed. The man reportedly also spoke in an American accent and told the student that his car was impounded on Cromwell Road. The student pointed him in the right direction, but the American man insisted that they take minicab to the car pound, and paid the driver £15 upfront. The American man regaled the student with information to implicitly suggest that he was to be trusted; one such piece of information was that he was in the US Marine Corps.
The American man then wanted the student to pay for the car to be released, claiming that his credit card was not working. The student was promised that he would receive an iPod or double the amount of money asked. The student said that at this point “I tried to hide my surprise at the rapidly deteriorating situation, and said I didn’t want to profit, I just wanted to help him.” The student withdrew £70 to give to the man, saying that “by this stage... the loss of £70 was probably the best outcome I could hope for”. The student informed the driver of the minicab asking to not be left with the con man.
Having left the student in the minicab with all of his belongings, the con man returned to say that he now required £200. The student avoided withdrawing this money by telling the con man that he had reached his overdraft limit. The American man then attempted to take the mini cab to a “relative’s house”, but the driver did not take him. The driver then left, and the student told the con man that he could not help any more. The driver then picked the student up further down the road and took the student to Kensington police station.
In the police station, the crime took 4 hours to report.
The crime has also been reported to the Imperial College Police Officer and the Imperial College Head of Security.
The student said: “I was lucky to lose only £70. Had it not been for the decency of the cab driver, it may have ended up much worse”.