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Crime

Over £2.5M lost to romance fraud last year in Sussex

Sussex Police are supporting a national Action Fraud warning to the public to spot the signs of romance fraud ahead of Valentine’s Day.

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Reports made to Action Fraud reveal that nationally a staggering £50,766,602 was lost to romance fraud in 2018 – an average of £11,145 per victim and a 27% increase on the previous year.

In Sussex during 2018, 157 victims lost a total of £2,561,906, with an average loss of £16,318 – sadly 127 out of 157 attempts succeeded. 61% live of victims alone and their average age is 65.

PC Bernadette Lawrie BEM, Financial Abuse Safeguarding Officer for Sussex & Surrey Police said:

“Romance fraud, accounts for 10% of all vulnerable victim fraud reports across our counties and is one of the most despicable crimes we see, with the devastating and lasting impact it has on victims going far beyond the financial loss.

“Victims are targeted and exploited when they are at their most vulnerable and the complex tactics and deceitful tales that lure the victims into parting with such huge sums of money are quite astonishing. One of the most difficult conversations we have is telling a victim that not only will they not see their money come back but that the person they believe they are in a relationship with and are looking forward to a future with, is in fact a criminal posing under a false identity.”

“The involvement of two case workers, funded by Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner (SPCC) Katy Bourne, and working through Victim Support, who support vulnerable victims who have been systematically targeted by criminals, is a valuable addition to to our efforts, in particular in relation to romance fraud.”

The pair follow up on referrals from Operation Signature, Sussex Police’s project which identifies and support vulnerable victims of fraud.

Katy Bourne said;

“I’m very proud to have funded these case workers. They have achieved so much, offering invaluable emotional support as well as practical advice to some of our most vulnerable residents. It’s particularly heartening that out of the hundreds of clients they have supported, so little have been referred back to them. This really does show the valuable work they are doing to enable people to better protect themselves from future victimisation.”

Detective Inspector Mark O’Brien of the Sussex Police Economic Crime Unit said;

Operation Signature is the Sussex Police campaign to identify and support vulnerable victims of fraud across the county. Fraud is becoming more complex and deceptive, and much of it is targeted at vulnerable and elderly people.

The force has a process for recognising victims of all fraud as victims of crime and providing preventative measures to support and protect them from further targeting. This can include helping them to change their phone number to an ex-directory number, contacting family to suggest Power of Attorney, mail re-direction, offering them advice on call blocking devices and referring them to other support services.”

Police also raise awareness of the issue within local communities through local Prevention teams, and news and social media, encouraging people to take preventative steps.

Police advice is; never send or give money to anyone you don’t know or trust; check people are who they say they are; don’t share your personal information; make decisions in your own time; and if in doubt phone a relative or a friend.

For further information about Operation Signature see the Sussex Police website

For further information about the Action Fraud campaign see their website.

Crime

Teenager found guilty of murdering Arnold Potter named

A teenager who stabbed and killed a man in Maidenbower, Crawley has been found guilty of murder.

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Kai Gasson, 17, unemployed, from Crawley, admitted using a lock knife to wound the torso of Arnold Potter; however, he claimed he did so in self-defence.

Reporting restrictions were lifted to allow him to be named.

The 24-year-old victim sought help from a number of residents following the incident in Watson Close, Maidenbower, around 6.40pm on Thursday, November 15.

Shortly afterwards, he was found collapsed in the street. Despite the best efforts of paramedics and members of the public who commenced CPR, he was sadly declared dead at 7.17pm.

Gasson had chased Arnold (pictured above) up the street following the attack, but then made off from the scene and spent the night at a friend’s house, where he confessed to his crime and was encouraged to hand himself in to police the next day.

Man is stabbed to death in Maidenbower.

He was charged with murder and was remanded in custody ahead of a two-week trial which concluded at Lewes Crown Court on Thursday, April 18 where a jury found him guilty of murder.

It is alleged that in the events leading up to the attack, the defendant had been approached in the street by Arnold, who is reported to have held a knife to his throat and threatened to rob him of his drugs.

In response to this, Gasson withdrew a knife from his bag and used it to stab Arnold.

Following a search of his house, the defendant was further arrested and charged with possession of an offensive weapon (a knife). The jury also found him guilty of this offence as well as possession with intent to supply a class A drug (cocaine).

Photo: A replica of the knife used by Gasson

Detective Chief Inspector Andy Richardson, who led the investigation, said: “Kai Gasson has been found guilty of the murder of Arnold Potter and rightly so now faces a minimum of 15 years behind bars.

“The jury has rejected his claim that he acted in self-defence and agreed with the prosecution that he murdered Arnold Potter.

“Gasson was also been found guilty of possession of a knife and pleading guilty to possession with intent to supply cocaine.

“Knife crime hasn’t just affected the two individuals involved; it has also affected their families, friends and the wider community and my thoughts our especially with Arnold’s family at this time.

“The key element to this tragic incident is the possession of a knife in a public place, which is an extremely serious offence.

“Had Gasson not been in possession of a knife that day, he would not have stabbed anyone and he would not now be facing a sentence.

“The devastation caused by knife crime is well documented, and Sussex Police – like every other force in the UK – will not tolerate it.

“We must continue to educate people – particularly young people – that carrying offensive weapons in public is a serious offence which ruins lives. It is a common misconception that some people feel safer in possession with a knife. This cannot be further from the truth; carrying a knife makes you far more likely to be involved in a crime, whether you are the victim or the offender.

“Our message is simple: lose the knife, not your life.”

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