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7 October 2012, 10:52
Police are hunting a fraudster who's believed to have conned at least 50 churches into handing over cash, including several in Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire.
Northamptonshire Police have released details of Mark Proctor, 47, (pictured) who is believed to be targetting churches or those connected with churches, telling them he has lost a family member in a distant part of the country.
He often requests money to help him travel to identify the body of the family member.
The suspect is believed to carry out some local research before targeting each church, as witnesses recall him quoting local vicar's, reverend's or wardens' names as well as local addresses to form part of his story.
Four separate incidents were reported to Northamptonshire Police relating to fraud. The first report concerned money being taken from a victim connected with a church in Kings Sutton at the end of 2011.
A second incident was reported on 21 August 2012 where two separate people were duped out of money from the Towcester Road Methodist Hall, Northampton.
Another report was made on 23 August 2012 when a victim connected with a church in Long Buckby handed over money.
A series of strikingly similar offences have also known to have taken place in Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, West Midlands and Hampshire throughout the summer.
He is described as a White male in his 40s, approximately 5ft 9ins tall, slim build, with short fair hair.
He is believed to use a number of different aliases and public transport to get around the country, staying in hotels or bed and breakfasts during the incidents.
PC Stuart Roberts, who is leading the case, said: “We are extremely keen to speak with this man and would urge him to make contact with us so that we can establish the full facts.
“We know of at least 50 offences have taken place since April of this year across the country, with sums of between £30 and £500 being fraudulently obtained.
“I’m sure there are others that have taken place and people have simply not reported it to us.
“These offences have taken place all over the country and we are keen for anyone with information to contact their local police force.”
Anyone with information is asked to call Police on the non-emergency number 101.
Alternatively, information can be given anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.