Criminal network convicted for industrial-scale fraud of elderly and vulnerable victims

10/12/2015

Four defendants were convicted today at the Central Criminal Court for a conspiracy to commit fraud against hundreds of victims in the south and west of England. Five other defendants had pleaded guilty at an earlier date for their parts in the fraud.

The organised criminal network made gains of £904,000 from the fraud and attempted to gain another £69,000 from elderly and vulnerable victims in London, Kent, Bedfordshire, Dorset, Devon and Cornwall.

The fraud was generally carried out by making a phone call to the victim, purporting to be from a police officer telling them that someone had cloned their card or had gained access to their account. The victim would then be encouraged immediately to call '999' or their bank's fraud department to verify the information.  At this point the defendants would not hang up the phone so when the victim thought they were calling the police or bank they were still connected to the defendants who put on a different persona to verify the information.

Once the defendants had convinced the victim that a fictional fraud was taking place they would then instruct them to either transfer money into another account to 'keep it safe' or withdraw cash and pass it on to a courier who came to their homes.

The defendants carried out the fraud from a base in east London and targeted victims in the south of England including Kent, Bedfordshire, Dorset, Devon and Cornwall. The victims were mainly elderly and some had vision and mobility impairments.  It is believed that the criminal network attempted to contact over 3,000 people as part of the fraud and that only a small percentage of victims have reported the offence.

Robert Hutchinson, CPS London reviewing lawyer, said: "This was a sophisticated and well-planned fraud which has devastated the victims and robbed them of much of their life savings.

"The defendants were very convincing in their lies and frequently checked up on their victims to ensure they had not alerted anyone to their scam.  By imitating a phone call to a police officer or bank employee to give the impression that the information was genuine most of the victims were convinced from the beginning. They were then told not to trust local police officers or bank employees as they were part of the fictional fraud and if they told anyone they could compromise the police investigation.

"These defendants were cruel, callous and calculating in committing this fraud, demonstrated by their treatment of one victim who had just been diagnosed with cancer and was told to miss his doctor's appointment in order to go and withdraw money from the bank.

"The way in which this fraud was carried out has had a traumatic effect on the victims, some of whom have not been able to recover their money.  I would like to thank them for coming forward and praise their courage in giving evidence in court - you have helped bring these defendants to justice."

Background

Defendants and convictions

MAKHZUMI ABUKAR
CONSPIRACY TO COMMIT FRAUD, contrary to section 1 of the Criminal Law Act 1977.
Pleaded guilty 2nd November 2015.

YASSER ABUKAR
CONSPIRACY TO COMMIT FRAUD, contrary to section 1 of the Criminal Law Act 1977.
Convicted by a unanimous verdict 10th December 2015.

MOHAMMED SHARIF ABOKAR
CONVERTING THE PROCEEDS OF CRIME, contrary to section 327 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
Convicted by a unanimous verdict 10th December 2015.

SAKARIA ADEN
CONSPIRACY TO COMMIT FRAUD, contrary to section 1 of the Criminal Law Act 1977.
Convicted by a unanimous verdict 10th December 2015.

ACHMED ABDULAZIZ AHMED
CONSPIRACY TO COMMIT FRAUD, contrary to section 1 of the Criminal Law Act 1977.
Pleaded guilty 2nd November 2015

MOHAMED DAHIR
CONSPIRACY TO COMMIT FRAUD, contrary to section 1 of the Criminal Law Act 1977.
Convicted by a unanimous verdict 10th December 2015.

FAHIM ISLAM
CONSPIRACY TO COMMIT FRAUD, contrary to section 1 of the Criminal Law Act 1977.
Pleaded guilty 2nd November 2015.

MOHAMMED YOUSSFI
CONVERTING THE PROCEEDS OF CRIME, contrary to section 327 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
Two counts of FRAUD, contrary to section 1 of the Fraud Act 2006.
Pleaded guilty 2nd November 2015

ANRUL ISLAM
CONVERTING THE PROCEEDS OF CRIME, contrary to section 327 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
FRAUD, contrary to section 1 of the Fraud Act 2006.
Pleaded guilty 2nd November 2015


IBRAHIM FARAH was acquitted after trial of one count of Conspiracy to Commit Fraud.