Scam sees Shoreditch drug users 'forced to buy paracetamol for £500'
PUBLISHED: 08:03 01 September 2016 | UPDATED: 09:35 01 September 2016
Partygoers in Shoreditch are being tricked into handing over as much as £500 a pop for paracetamol by groups pretending they are selling cocaine, the Gazette can reveal.
A suspected scammer was questioned after buying a box of the painkillers in a convenience store in Old Street on Friday night, believed to be one of a gang of about 30 who police said had been “terrorising the area” this year – starting fights, harassing women and trying to pass off over-the-counter painkillers as class A substances.
Pc Shaz Ahmed told the Gazette: “They are only offering to supply paracetamol, which isn’t an offence so it often goes nowhere.
“They will say: ‘Do you want coke?’ All the drunk people are doing is snorting paracetamol up their noses. They might not have a hangover the next day, though.”
Sgt Mark Page described how lone drunken men stumbling to a bus stop might become targets.
“He will get surrounded by a group. One will come up and say: ‘Are you ok? Would you like some drugs?’
“Which it isn’t. It’s paracetamol.”
The “victim” might agree to buy coke – but when they snort a sample and realise it isn’t cocaine, they might be surrounded by six men demanding payment anyway.
“They’ll say: ‘It’s £50 or we are going to kick the stuffing out of you.’
“He will be frogmarched to a cashpoint and they’ll take £500.”