Scam sees Shoreditch drug users ‘forced to buy paracetamol for £500’

Mark Page outside the people carrier he and the night time economy team patrol Shoreditch in, keepin

Mark Page outside the people carrier he and the night time economy team patrol Shoreditch in, keeping an eye out for scammers. (Photo: Emma Bartholomew) - Credit: Archant

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.

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“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.”

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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.”

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