A man claiming to provide services to people suffering from “dangerous black magic” is being hunted by police over a fraud that cost his victim over £400,000.
The Met on Monday released a picture of Muhammed Ashraf who officers in Hounslow want to question after a 57-year-old woman was defrauded between April 2013 and November 2015.
The woman told police that in March 2013 she received a leaflet through her letterbox claiming to “provide services to people suffering from dangerous black magic”.
Police said the woman rang a mobile phone number on the leaflet and spoke to a man to “enquire about using his service”.
After meeting the man at a property in Southall, she paid him £350 in return for his help, the Met said. She believed it was a one off payment and was not told that the fees would increase in the future.
But a week later the man contacted her again, telling her that her “problems were too complicated and he required more money to help her”. The man “needed” an extra £90,000, the Met said.
The victim questioned the payment, but agreed to pay £60,000 cash.
From then until November 2015, police said, the victim and the man met once a fortnight and on each occasion he demanded more money.
When the man wasn’t available, Ashraf would supposedly go in his place, but in late November he told the victim his co-conspirator had died.
Ashraf then allegedly instructed the woman to delete any contact number or messages from him from her phone. When questioned about the request, Ashraf told the woman he needed to return to India to do “further work”.
At this point the victim reported him to police.
The Met told HuffPost on Monday that they believe Ashraf, a 37-year-old of no fixed abode, was the only offender involved in the fraud.
Three weeks after reporting Ashraf to police, the victim saw him driving a blue Hyundai with the registration number AD14 NAZ in Southall, in what is the last known sighting of him.
Detective constable Ben Lawrence-Smith, from Hounslow CID, said although the offence happened a number of years ago, police still want the public’s help to find him.
Ashraf is described as an Asian male who had a beard and moustache at the time of the fraud. He is known to sometimes use the surname Ali and may be residing in the Midlands, Lawrence-Smith said.
Anyone with any information is urged to contact police at Hounslow CID on 020 8247 6160 or tweet @MetCC. Crimestoppers can also be contacted anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at crimestoppers-uk.org.