Five men from North London have gone on trial at the Old Bailey, and are accused of taking part in a large-scale fraud in order to snare as many people as possible in 2014 and 2015.
Kevin Dent prosecuting the case addressed the jury and said that: "It is difficult to know for sure exactly how extensive this fraud was but at the very least, over £600,000 was obtained from the 18 identified victims with an average age of 83."
It is alleged that the defendants targeted the elderly and vulnerable in order to defraud them of their savings. The victims would be phoned at home by someone posing as a police officer investigating a fraud on their bank account and in order to safeguard their money, they were advised to either transfer it into an account or withdraw it in cash.
The fake officer might say they had someone in custody who was caught attempting to used a cloned card in a high street store such as Argos.
Eighteen elderly people from Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Bedfordshire, London and Kent were phoned up by men pretending to be investigating a fraud at their bank, the Old Bailey heard. The victims, aged in their 70s, 80s and 90s, were allegedly advised to transfer money or hand over cash for "safekeeping": when in reality they were being ripped off.
Mr Dent told the jury: "Can you imagine your alarm on receiving a phone call like that from somebody purporting to be a police officer, saying there is fraud going on in your bank account?
"If you can imagine the alarm you might have, then think about the amount of alarm and distress to somebody considerably older than yourselves, perhaps less robust."
By 2015, the con had moved on to include informing victims there was an "inside job" involving counterfeit money, the court heard.
Mr Dent said that the variety of "tricks" deployed by the conmen included playing on family ties.
One victim was told a grandchild was caught up in the fraud and co-operating with the police was the only way of sorting out that problem, Mr Dent said.
The conmen would advise their victims to call 999 or their bank's fraud department to verify the details straight away, but they would not hang up so the elderly people would simply be reconnected to the fraudsters.
The prosecutor told jurors: "It's very clever but something very simple and something that was used again and again. A really good con trick."
Mr Dent said the fraudsters believed that once the money had been turned into cash it would then be "anonymous" and police would never be able to trace it back to the victims.
But the primary organiser of the fraud, who has already pleaded guilty, was found with a number of cash bands from the same bank branch as one of the victims, jurors were told.
Dahir, 23, Aden, 21, Abukar, 23, Farah, 23, and Abokar, 28, deny conspiracy to commit fraud between May 2014 and May 2015.
Mohammed Abokar also denies a charge of converting criminal property: £9,000 belonging to one of the victims on or around 29 January 2015.
The trial continues at the Old Bailey.
See the Telegraph's full article here.