Getting smart on smartphone fraudsters

Getting smart on smartphone fraudsters

Published: Monday, 8 September
People who sell their phones and tablets while claiming they have been stolen on trains are being warned officers might knock at their door.

British Transport Police officer

A specialist team of officers is targeting people who deliberately report their gadgets as stolen in order to claim hundreds of pounds in insurance scams.

In the past year, detectives have fined 16 people in London for wasting police time after they maliciously reported the theft of their mobile or tablet, when they either still had the device or had sold it privately. Many more have been prosecuted for fraud.

Detective Constable Martin Wilson said: “While the vast majority of people who report stolen phones and tablets to the police do so in good faith, a small proportion do so dishonestly in a deliberate attempt to make money by selling these gadgets and then claiming further cash via fraudulent insurance claims”.

False theft claims

  • An East London woman was recently convicted after she claimed her phone had been stolen when, in fact, she’d sold it.
  • A woman was given a 12-month conditional discharge and fined £190 after pleading guilty to wasting police time and fraud by false representation. She called police in July and claimed her iPhone 5 had been stolen on a Tube train between Liverpool Street and Woodford. Officers were able to trace the phone to a gadget shop in Ilford. After talking to shop staff, it became clear that she pawned the phone the previous month.
  • In other cases, property is reported as stolen when it has simply been lost.

More information: loss or theft?

If you lose property while travelling on the train or Tube, think carefully before reporting it to us. You must have an honestly-held belief a crime has been committed in order to make a report. If you are unsure, visit lost property offices along your route  or reporting through where you can get a reference number suitable for insurance purposes.

If you report a theft and subsequently find your property, you must contact police and cancel the report immediately. Failure to do so is an offence and could lead to prosecution.

Contact Us

To report a crime or incident, call

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or text 61016

In an emergency call 999