'Home Office' con man jailed for blackmailing students out of thousands of pounds
A con man who posed as an undercover immigration officer to blackmail international students in Croydon and Wandsworth out of thousands of pounds has been jailed.
Raja Shazad of no fixed abode, was jailed for two years after pleading guilty to two counts of blackmail when he appeared at Croydon Crown Court on Monday.
The 26-year-old blackmailed two students out of more than £9,000 between September and November 2013, after convincing them he was a Home Office official.
One victim, a 22-year-old man was duped out of £1,500 after Shazad made contact with him and told him he was in the UK illegally and would be deported if he did not pay him the money.
After initially contacting the victim via phone, Shazad eventually arranged to meet him outside Lunar House in Wellesley Road, where the victim handed over the money.
The victim- who was in the UK on a legitimate student visa- eventually told his friends what had happened and they advised him to contact police.
Despite police releasing CCTV footage of the exchange in June, detectives were unable to establish the identity of Shazad.
In the second case, a 33-year-old victim was approached by Shazad at a convenience store in Wandsworth where he worked.
Initially, Shazad approached the victim claiming he had lost his wallet and needed some money for a train ticket.
But the following day Shazad contacted the victim, claiming he was from the Home Office and had been monitoring him for a number of months. Shazad blackmailed out of £8,000 before the victim reported it to police.
Detectives re-released Shazad's image in August and at the same time, officers re-ran police computer checks against the names the victims had been given by the suspect.
It was from these checks that Shazad was identified leading to his arrest in September.
When sentencing Shazad the judge indicated he will face deportation from the UK upon completion of his sentence due to his current immigration status.
Detective Constable Lucy Brookshaw from Croydon CID said: "Shazad preyed on two vulnerable victims, who were both in the UK completely legitimately.
"He made them think he was working for the Home Office and blackmailed them both out of nearly £10k.
"After months of trying, we were finally able to identify him and he pleaded guilty to both offences straight away, which at least meant both victims did not have to endure a trial at court."
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