Watford & Luton men jailed for £113 million UK's biggest ever cyber scammers conspiracy with other gang members
21 September 2016
A "clever, persistent and pitiless" gang who posed as bank employees to steal £113m from small businesses have been sentenced to 21 years in prison.
Mohammed Mehtab, 35, of Watford, was given an eight-month suspended prison sentence after pleading guilty to conspiracy to launder money.
He allowed more than £9,000 to go through his account. Syed Haider, 31, of Slough, was sentenced to five years in prison for conspiracy to defraud and conspiracy to transfer criminal property.
Syed Ali Amish, 24, of Luton, was sentenced to 32 months for conspiracy to launder money.
The judge said he played a "significant role" in the gang including recruiting others to provide bank accounts and trying to arrange accounts himself.
The accounts were targeted in a "vishing" scam masterminded by Feezan Hameed, 23, from Glasgow, London's Southwark Crown Court was told.
He made phone calls posing as an official from a bank's fraud department and persuaded victims to reveal financial information or use card readers to authorise payments online.
Several members of the gang, which netted £19 million between August 2013 and October 2015, were sentenced on Wednesday.
Nouman Chaudhary, 21, of Glasgow, was sentenced to three and a half years for conspiracy to money launder.
Judge Testar said Chaudhary "frittered money away on ephemeral junk" at Harrods and was present when £48,000 was spent at the luxury department store, and also "threw himself fully into the lavish lifestyle" including expensive hotels, cars and nightclubs.
He travelled first class to Dubai and Pakistan. Abdul Iqbal, 23, of Edinburgh, was sentenced to 21 months for conspiracy to money launder.
Hameed treated him as a butler or servant but he got a £3,500 watch from the scheme and was present at Harrods when £70,000 was spent.
He accepted that £110,000 went through his account but he "threw himself happily into the task and enjoyed the life that Feezan Hameed brought him", the judge said.
The fraudsters used a "network of money mules" to siphon the cash into accounts in Dubai and Pakistan and drove Bentleys, Range Rovers, a Rolls-Royce and a lime green Lamborghini. Around £66m has never been recovered.
One firm of solicitors lost more than £2.1m in a single hit, several companies nearly went bankrupt and one victim later committed suicide.
An extensive proactive covert operation was undertaken in London, Thames Valley and Scotland against the network and on 21 October a co-ordinated day of action saw search warrants executed in Watford, Ilford, Luton, Slough, Glasgow and Edinburgh, resulting in eleven arrests."The people behind the fraud would have need to have an understanding of bank systems. The people involved seem to be able to take control of telephone lines of business so as to shut them out of the banks," according to Sky News.