New crime documentary Fraud Squad for ITV

The latest documentary series commissioned by ITV shadows detectives as they investigate one of the biggest share frauds in Britain.

The latest documentary series commissioned by ITV shadows detectives as they investigate one of the biggest share frauds in Britain.

The series follows the hunt for a ringleader and his gang, which takes detectives across the playgrounds of Europe. They aim to recover £20 million stolen from British victims. For the first time Fraud Squad shows the challenges British police face in dismantling a global criminal network, and sheds light on the devastating impact fraud has on the British victims.

The two part series from Wild Pictures, who recently produced prison documentary Strangeways, reveals how organised crime has moved into the financial markets, and how criminal gangs prey on vulnerable people to coerce them into buying fake shares in fictitious companies. With unique access to the City of London Police’s specialist fraud investigations department, the films follow their meticulous operations to bring the multi-million pound fraudsters to justice.

Victims of the fraudsters talk about how they have seen their life savings disappear, like 91 year old John Learmonth who lost more than £100,000. John’s savings were there to help pay for the care of his disabled wife.

John says: “No human being should be allowed to inflict this on somebody else. They’re despicable. They out there to make money out of people at any price or at any discomfort to the other person.”

More than three million people in Britain have become victims to an ever-growing number of mass marketing scams. The gangs’ most lucrative enterprise is Boiler Room fraud. People are conned into buying worthless shares in fictitious companies. Some victims lose their homes, others have committed suicide. The City of London Police Economic Crime Department has identified 1,200 Boiler Rooms making criminal gangs more than £300 million a year.

Detective Chief Superintendent Steve Head warns: “They will bleed people dry, they will keep on pressurising them until they have got absolutely everything they can. There are tens of thousands of victims of this kind of crime out there in the UK.”

Criminal gangs share the lists of people they have conned. It leads to repeat victimisation. Detectives are present when victim John Learmonth receives a phone call and menacing demand from another Boiler Room.

Sheila Wright Hogeland lost hundreds of thousands of pounds to a Boiler Room. “I have lost virtually everything I had, and virtually everything my mother had, it’s all gone. I can’t pay any bills, I’m going to lose my home, I have been here for twenty years. They have taken our livelihood.

“I feel guilty, I feel ashamed that I was taken in. I’m not an unintelligent person. I said to the police I acted completely out of character in doing this. But they said every single victim has said that, and that’s a reflection not so much on the victims but on the perpetrators, that they are so cunning. The people who perpetrate this are evil, they are cowardly. I think they must be sociopaths, they obviously don’t care about the consequences for anybody.”

Fraud Squad trails detectives as they launch simultaneous raids across Europe to arrest and dismantle a criminal enterprise. As the gang members are brought into custody, the ringleader manages to slip through the net. Detectives devise a cunning trap to entice the ringleader out of hiding. They secretly use his wife’s mobile phone to text him and lure him to Copenhagen airport for arrest.

DCI David Clark says: “Sometimes to catch a deviant you have got to be a deviant.”

ITV have yet to announce a broadcast date.