Five east London men were jailed for a combined 35 and a half years after a nationwide scam saw elderly victims swindled out of hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Tower Hamlets residents Joynal Miah, Milad Ahmed and Mahbub Fahim Aziz were sentenced at Leeds Crown Court alongside Juber Alom and Kevin Bokanga, who both live in Beckton.

The offenders, part of a six-man gang, cold called their victims posing as police officers and said they were investigating suspects who had accessed their bank accounts.

The victims, often elderly and vulnerable, were transferred to what they thought was their bank or local police department.

They would then be told to visit their bank, withdraw cash and hand it over to a courier waiting outside their home.

They were caught by a joint operation between the Yorkshire and Humberside, North East and South East regional crime units , who identified 97 victims – 33 of whom lost more than £220,000.

Yorkshire and Humber Regional Crime Unit’s DI Jack Walker said: “These fraudsters preyed on some of the most vulnerable people in our communities targeting them in a sophisticated criminal network.

“The victims were often isolated and frail but still targeted and, if they realised it was a scam, some were subject to threats and horrific verbal abuse.

“The offending covered almost every policing region within the country.”

Miah, 29, of Eric Street, got 10 and a half years, Ahmed, 22, of Poplar High Street, received an 11-year term and 21-year-old Walden Street resident Aziz was imprisoned for two and a half years.

The Beckton duo Alom, aged 31, of Canterbury Close, and 22-year-old Bokanga, Horse Leaze, received six and a half and five years respectively.

The sixth man jailed was Essex man Sabir Uddin who got five and a half years.

DI Walker said: “Please remember that your bank and the police will never ask you to give your account details, Pin number or security code over the phone and will never ask you to hand over cash.

“If you receive a call from someone asking for this information and other details such as passwords then do not give it.

“Please end the call immediately, wait five minutes to ensure the caller has cleared the line or use a different phone to report the matter to the police .”