Five men jailed for their part in regional phone scam

02/02/2015

Five men appeared at St Albans Crown Court today, Monday, 02 February 2015, and were jailed for a combined total of 17 years 7 months after pleading guilty to a series of phone scams during which they posed as police officers and bank officials to trick their victims out of thousands of pounds.

The five men, who are all from Camden, London, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation between March and June 2014 at an earlier hearing.  They were sentenced as follows:

  • Mohammed Miah, aged 22, of Coopers Lane, Kings Cross, who supplied the hired cars used by the gang, was jailed for three years and seven months
  • Mohammed Hussain, aged 23 and of Malden Crescent, NW1, who had collected the cards from the victims, was jailed for three years and nine months
  • Motahir Rahman, aged 24, of Kiln Place, Kentish Town, who was found with cards when he was arrested, was jailed for three years and four months
  • Dedar Ali, aged 21, of Cressfield Close, NW5, who got involved in the scam to pay off a debt, was jailed for three years and four months
  • Muhammad Ahmed, aged 23, of Hemingway Close, Gospel Oak, who had impersonated police officers on the phone, was jailed for three years and seven months.

Some 1200 cold calls to members of the public had been made by the gang and the group stole more than £40,000 after they tricked 11 elderly and vulnerable victims into handing over bank cards and PIN numbers.  There had been attempts by the gang to get a further £19,000.

In all the offences they posed as police officers or bank staff and told their victims that their bank and credit cards had been compromiserd and needed to be collected by a courier as part of the investigation.  They then used special apps downloaded onto a mobile phone and the open line trick to dupe their victims into handing over their PIN numbers.

Two of the group (Miah and Hussain) acted as couriers and collected the cards and PIN numbers, which were used immediately to withdraw cash at cash machines near their victim's homes while the others posed as police officers on the phone.

The gang struck across counties in southern England including Hampshire, Sussex, Suffolk, Essex, Herts, Beds, Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.

One of their victims, an 84-year-old woman from Bishop's Stortford,  Hertfordshire, lost more than £20,000 over the course of 30 days when members of the group kept up the pretence and phoned her every day asking for more money.  She lives alone and now constantly fears she is being watched.

Other victims included a woman in Hastings, who had £1270 stolen, a 44-year-old woman living in Sherbourne St John, Hampshire, who lost £1500, and another woman pensioner in Hastings, who lost £2330.  In Dedham, Essex an elderly couple lost almost £5000 at the hands of the gang and another couple living in Steeple Bumpstead in the county lost £5480.

Four of the men were arrested last July after search warrants were executed in north London during an operation by officers from the Eastern Regional Special Operations Unit (ERSOU) which in March set up a special task force to investigate the rapidly-spreading frauds by thieves posing as police or bank officials. A fifth man, Ali, was arrested last October.

More than 80 officers from Essex, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and the Metropolitan Police Service were involved in the searches of addresses in the Camden area.

Numerous phones and computers were seized by the regional team, which was set up to investigate hundreds of similar frauds and attempted frauds being carried out across East Anglia.

Judge Stephen Warner, who felt that it was warranted to make a departure from the sentencing guidelines to ensure the sentences reflected the seriousness of the offences, told the five men: "These were mean and cynical offences deliberately planned to take advantage of the vulnerable and done to obtain financial gain. Those who commit these offences can expect substantial terms of imprisonment."