Shekel-scam conman back on the trains

The shekel scammer has struck again. At least seven more people have fallen prey to the man whose patter has separated Jewish travellers from their money.

However, British Transport Police hinted this week that they were stepping up their efforts to track down the man, who has wormed his way into the confidence of Jewish London Underground passengers.

He spins them a sob story about a sick relative, either a mother or child, and tells them that he has to fly back to Israel that day and needs to change shekels for pounds. He has used several names and has given false contact information.

BTP acting Detective Chief Inspector Jason Bunyard said: “We have reviewed closed circuit television from trains and stations and spoken to witnesses who have given us some very detailed information, which is assisting our investigation.”

One of two victims, who wished to remain anonymous said: “He asked me about train times, then told me he was from Jerusalem and that I looked Israeli, which isn’t true, although I do have slight Jewish ancestry and therefore got completely taken in by him and felt obliged to help.”

The second person to fall victim this week was a student, who handed over £60 to the man. Last week, the JC was told that the man had prised cash from five more people.

There is a history of tricksters who have targeted the Jewish community.

Last year, an 85-year-old Jewish man in Mill Hill was conned out of cash twice by a man who said he had lost his keys and needed to go to the Midlands.

In 2005, Barnet police smashed a £5 million postal fraud ring which extracted money mainly from the Orthodox community in Golders Green.

And in 2004, Israeli former taxi driver Moshe Zfaty was jailed for three years and four months at Harrow Crown Court for eight burglary and deception charges after he used religious garb and language to trick Jews in Hendon and Golders Green. He was told he would be deported at the end of his sentence.

In 2003 South Harrow police investigated three separate reports of a man with an Orthodox appearance trying to scam money from people in Stanmore. The bearded man, who wore a kippah and black coat, was claiming he had arrived from the US with his family, and was short of money for his wife’s doctor’s bill.

    Last updated: 10:07am, July 8 2009