Fraudsters ordered to repay the proceeds of crime back to elderly victims
Four men were made subject of Confiscation Orders at Worcester Crown Court after committing nationwide telephone and courier fraud offences against the elderly and vulnerable.
Eight men in total were sentenced on 11 February 2019 at Worcester Crown Court, to more than 21 years for their roles in the crimes, which formed part of Operation Hyperion.
The fraud offences took place between April and June 2016 across the force areas of Worcestershire, Warwickshire, Cumbria, West Midlands, Avon and Somerset, Gloucestershire and Thames Valley, when 50 victims, ranging from 49 to 96 years old, were called on their landline telephone numbers and asked to hand over money.
It was a persuasive scam that saw offenders purporting to be police officers investigating a fraud at a local banking branch.
Of the 50 victims targeted, 15 were persuaded to hand over money, with a total of over £200,000 being stolen.
In December 2019, Worcester Crown Court, made five men subject of a Confiscation Order, under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. This means they have to pay back the money which they gained from the crimes committed. Even if they do not have the funds or assets to pay the money back now, the Order means that if they are found to have assets at any time in the future, they still have to pay back all they received from their crimes.
On 29 January 2020, at Worcester Crown Court, a further four men were also made subject of a Confiscation Order.
Mohammed Hadi, 34, of Uamvar Street, London, played a significant role within the conspiracy and was the link between the offenders who contacted victims, the couriers and those involved in the money laundering. He was also known to purchase key mobile phone top up vouchers. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation and was sentenced to 6 years in prison in February 2019. He was deemed to have received a benefit of £213,000.00 for his part in the crimes, however, he was deemed to have no available assets to repay this amount and was ordered to pay a nominal amount of £1.00, within 3 months or to face a 7 day sentence in default.
Idris Ali, 24, of Belmont Street, Oldham, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation and was sentenced in February 2019 to 16 months in prison, with his sentence suspended for 2 years. He must also complete 300 hours of unpaid work. Mr Ali purchased top up cards for mobile phones that were used to facilitate the contact with victims, controlled a fraudulent account and when arrested was found in possession of £5000. He was deemed to have received a benefit of £40,000.00 for his part in the crimes, however, he was deemed to have £6,932.00 currently available, which he must repay within 3 months, or face a 14 day sentence in default.
John Atkins, 68, of Hawksley Street, Oldham, allowed his bank account to be used to receive funds from victims of the frauds. He has pleaded guilty and awaits sentencing. He was deemed to have received a benefit of £13,565.00 for his part in the crimes, however, he was deemed to have no available assets to repay this amount and was ordered to pay a nominal amount of £1.00, within 3 months or to face a 7 day sentence in default.
Rizwan Uddin, 22, of Collingwood Street, London, was involved in laundering of victims’ money, along with other offenders. He has pleaded guilty and awaits sentencing. He was deemed to have received a benefit of £7,340.00 for his part in the crimes, however, he was deemed to have no available assets to repay this amount and was ordered to pay a nominal amount of £1.00, within 3 months or to face a 7 day sentence in default.
The Judge ordered that the confiscated funds (along with the funds confiscated in December 2019) should be directed to the victims, as partial compensation for the losses they suffered.
Detective Inspector Emma Wright said “The defendants in this case took large amounts of money from vulnerable people by abusing the trust those victims have in the police, posing as officers who told the victims they must co-operate with a police investigation.
"These orders recognise the life-changing amounts that were taken from some of these victims. Although the amounts the defendants have been ordered to pay are based on what they have available as assets now, it is important to remember that the total amount they have benefitted remains outstanding for life, until every penny has been repaid. If these defendants are found to have further assets at any time in the future, the amount they must repay will be raised, until they have paid back all that they took from the victims.
"The convictions and subsequent confiscation orders in this case, show that West Mercia Police will pursue offenders who directly target the elderly and vulnerable, including stripping them of any assets they have gained through crime. I hope this will deter other criminals who may be involved in these despicable offences, by showing that they will be convicted and have their ill-gotten gains removed.