Police smash Pep fraud ring

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Detectives yesterday claimed to have smashed a fraud syndicate which had swindled hundreds of thousands of pounds in a simple scam involving applications for Pep savings schemes.

The alleged fraudsters hit financial institutions across Britain, opening Pep or unit trust accounts with cheques which which were usually for between pounds 5,000 and pounds 10,000.

They then exploited a refund clause before banks realised that the original cheques had come from fictitious or closed accounts.

Yesterday more than 60 officers from four forces raided 15 addresses in central London. Five people were arrested. The total losses from the scam were believed to be around pounds 250,000, although the potential had been far greater.