Thamesmead was intended to be a vibrant, riverside community in south-east London. Forty years after being built, the area is known as a notorious hub of fraud, dubbed "Little Lagos" because of its association with west African criminal gangs, says Phil Kemp.
West Africans involved in fraud? Shirley not!
Andrew Goodwill, director of the Third Man Group, a fraud prevention service which screens internet transactions to help retailers detect credit card fraud, said the company's database reveals Thamesmead's SE28 to have the worst record of any postcode in the country.
"Last year we indicated it was the capital in the UK for credit card fraud. And actually we went as far as to say it was probably the capital of Europe for credit card fraud as well."
He said the company has identified an entire street in the town where there is evidence of people being involved in fraud at every address.
It doesn't really come as any surprise to me - it's particularly easy to get away with it here. I knew someone who worked for a Credit Control department a while ago where they had an unwritten rule called the "vowel rule" whereby if someone had more vowels in their surname than consonants they would automatically be refused credit. This wasn't to be taken literally, more that if they got a call from Dixons in South London stating that a Mr. Babatunde Adewale wanted credit for a widescreen TV, it'd automatically be declined.
One person there said "In't that a bit racialist though?" and so they were shown a film taken with a hidden camera in a classroom in Lagos where people are specifically taught how to defraud the UK credit system, as well as other "bonuses" such as child/housing benefits.
She said the company told her it was beginning to refuse to deliver to the area because the person answering the door would ask who the parcel was addressed to and then sort through a stack of credit cards all under different names.
The mind boggles.
What would the fraud capital of Bristol be? Answers on a postcard. I'm going with Easton.