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Derby taxi driver foils scammers trying to rob elderly passenger of life savings

today3 September 2022 1

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A taxi driver from Derby has said that he is glad he was there to step in and stop scammers who were trying to defraud an 80-year-old widow of her life savings.

Nayyer Iqbal Bhatti, 52, of Albatross Cars, heard his vulnerable passenger talking on the phone to someone who claimed to be from her bank, and quickly realised that the conversation was not legitimate.

He says the woman asked to be taken to a branch of Barclays in Alfreton as the person on the other end of the line had told her that those working in the city could not be trusted and were trying to rob her of her cash.

Nayyer, who used to work as a mental health support worker for 30 years before becoming a driver three years ago, sensed something was off, and so when their journey had finished he raised his concerns with bank staff. They swiftly deduced that the call was a scam, so Nayyer told his passenger to hang up and not to speak to the thieves again.

He said: “I picked up a lady to take her to an out of town location, which in itself isn’t out of the ordinary. Whilst driving, people often talk to their driver and this particular lady suggested to me that she had had a difficult morning, that she had been on the phone to her bank’s fraud department which was sensing strange activity on her accounts.

Read more stories about Derbyshire people

“Straight away my senses became alert to this, they had apparently told her not to go down to the branch in the city as they suggested a scammer was working at that branch. Already I’m beginning to smell something here. I asked, ‘Who is this person, and why would this fraud investigation officer be right out of town at the same bank based at a different branch?’”

It also seemed odd that there was three times the distance away. The lady told me that he told her that he works in Durham, and she is going to ring him when she’s outside the Alfreton bank branch. At this point I thought everything’s wrong about this.

“But I didn’t want to scare the lady, so I ran into the branch and talked to a member of staff who could see that I needed to speak urgently. I quickly described the situation and darted straight back out to the lady who was awaiting the phone call.”



Barclays, Alfreton
Barclays in Alfreton has since been permanently closed

The member of staff at the bank was brilliant, and I left my passenger in the care of bank staff to make sure they close her accounts or do anything else they need to do. I returned back to Derby and then the lady rang the base to pass on her thanks to me.

“I’m hoping there was a good outcome in the lady’s favour. We are all trained in safeguarding and being alert we’ve got to know when to act accordingly to safeguard that person. People often divulge information to us.

“At the time, I became really quite angry at the scammers. I have a duty of care to protect this lady, but these guys are very sophisticated and take in the best of us. I wasn’t going to have it. We are not just taxi drivers, we are eyes and ears and act in the best interest of passengers.”

Nayyer’s manager at Albatross, Ateeq Naseem, 39, has rewarded his employee’s heroics with one week’s free taxi rental. He said: “It has given drivers a really happy, positive vibe – we feel it. I’m very proud of all the drivers, they go through a test when we recruit them and the company’s values match their values.

“Passengers are trusting us when someone rings up. It’s more of a responsibility than dropping people from A to B, it’s all about safeguarding and looking after somebody.”

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