CCTV catches ‘devious’ conman scamming Portsmouth neighbours out of £25 after lost keys ‘sob story'
VULNERABLE residents have been urged to stay on their guard after home CCTV caught a ‘tactical’ doorstep conman scamming two kind-hearted neighbours out of £25.
John Harvey, 67, was one of two Napier Road residents targeted as a scammer claiming to be a ‘new neighbour who has lost his keys’ made his way through Southsea last month.
The ‘well-spoken’ man knocked Mr Harvey’s surveilled front door asking for £25 for a taxi to Farlington to collect a spare set of keys for his ‘new home’ in Napier Road, on April 26.
But despite vowing to return within 40 minutes to pay Mr Harvey back, he took the cash and vanished.
Mr Harvey said he felt ‘pretty stupid’ after watching the CCTV footage back but is now on a mission to raise awareness of the con.
‘This is a plan set up to prey on your moral decency and I want to warn people this guy is in the area with this scam,' Mr Harvey said.
‘I’m not normally easily conned but this guy was cunning, it was late at night, it was raining and he had all his facts right – he had a convincing sob story.'
He added: ‘Sadly I imagine this shallow scam is working out for him with other people too.’
Hampshire Constabulary has confirmed it received a report of the con, which has been carried out at a number of other addresses in Southsea.
Landlady of The Phoenix Pub in Duncan Road, Katherine Birch, has branded the perpetrator a ‘wrong’un’ after he tricked her into handing over £20.
Snows Motor Group director Mark Trapani was also targeted at his Saint Helens Parade home on April 25, but flagged the cold-call up on Twitter instead of handing cash over.
‘He is preying on the vulnerable people of our city and I certainly would like to seem him brought to justice,’ he said.
‘Somebody who is not very streetwise could feel sorry for him, particularly because he is claiming to be a new neighbour – and we all like to be neighbourly.’
He added: ‘I am sure it’s a full-time occupation for him. He is very devious.’
When targeting homes, it is understood the conman claims to live in a property which has been signposted for let or sale.
A Hampshire police spokesman said: ‘If anyone has information about this incident they should call 101 quoting 44190144403 or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.’
You can watch CCTV of the conman outside Mr Harvey’s home at the top of this story.