Some of the members of the Silver Surfers Computer Club in Westcliff, which has been 'cancelled indefinitely' after members were arrested over a £500m fraud ring.

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Bosses of a company who run Southend computer classes for the over 60’s have promised to launch an urgent investigation after it was discovered that participants in an OAP computer class have been operating a FRAUD RING worth more than £500m – armed police raided the Cliff Avenue Community Centre earlier today, making 12 arrests and seizing computer equipment that has been used to allegedly defraud thousands of victims.

While official details of the fraud bust are still being kept under wraps by law enforcement authorities, an ex-member of the Silver Surfers Computer Club spoke to our Chief Reporter – they only agreed to do so after leaving the club last week over ‘death threats’ when they threatened to go to the police. Jemima Arrowroot, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, said: ‘When the club started in October 2015, we spent the first couple of weeks learning how to send emails, set up a Facebook account and talk to faraway relatives on Skype. Once everyone got bored with this towards the end of November, we thought that we could use our new skills to contact as many people as possible and get hold of their credit card details by posing as bank inspectors and police officers – it came in really handy in the run-up to Christmas.’

She continued: ‘Every week we would bung the instructor £500 to turn a blind eye, and he even taught one of us how to write a piece of software that locks someone’s computer until they pay £1000 at their nearest PayPoint or PayZone. One 90-year-old member even learned how to clone debit cards by watching a video on YouTube, and she then managed to get people to reveal their pin numbers over Skype webcam chats by posing as a 17-year-old Russian nymphomaniac.’

We asked her if perhaps it would have been better just to stick to the basics in classes, like typing documents and ordering groceries online. She replied: ‘Bugger that. Why should I learn a whole new set of skills just so I can watch my niece posing for photos with bright orange tan and hardly any clothes on? These classes gave all of us some vital life skills. Before the old bill showed up, we were making more than the Nigerians.’

In a late development, Southend News Network can EXCLUSIVELY reveal that the online fraud syndicate was being co-ordinated by Norris Di Pickle, the ex-capo of the North Thames Crew who is currently serving 25 years in prison for the Custard Cream Cocaine drugs bust. A spokesperson for Silver Surfers Computer Club said: ‘We sincerely apologise for the conduct of staff and pupils in our Westcliff branch – clearly mistakes have been made if they have been able to carry out half a billion pounds worth of fraud during their sessions with us. The majority of our over 60 class participants gain vital skills for the 21st Century when learning with us, and therefore we are confident that this is an isolated incident.’

Mrs Arrowroot added: ‘If you get a phone call from someone with a funny-sounding foreign accent these days, you just know it is going to be dodgy. However, someone that sounds like your nan can always be trusted, and we won’t be out of work for long – I’ve already downloaded an eBook about making a card skimming device from a discarded hearing aid and used teabags.’