TWO men have been put behind bars after they conned more than a quarter of a million pounds out their victims with a ‘courier fraud’ scam.
Both men had previously guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud - covering 27 offences committed over a ten week period between August 13 2014 and October 22 2014 with victims elderly or otherwise vulnerable.
Abdul Mohib, 23, of Frederick Street, west London was sentenced to three years and eight months imprisonment. Mominur Rahman, 19, of no fixed abode was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment.
The sentence follows an investigation - named Operation Juventus - by officers from the Westminster Borough’s Serious Acquisitive Crime Unit into a series of linked offences that had been committed across London boroughs including Westminster, Camden, Kensington and Chelsea, City of London, Lambeth and Richmond-upon-Thames.
Victims were contacted on their landline telephones by a man claiming to be a police officer named ‘Robert Bain’. He would convince victims that there had been fraudulent activity on their bank accounts and ask for their assistance with the police investigation.
To reassure victims that the call was genuine, the bogus officer suggested that they hang up and ring their bank or the police back straight away, but the fraudster would not disconnect the call.
Despite dialling legitimate phone numbers other fraudsters would then pose as bank officials or police operators and pretend to answer the call and verify the bogus officer’s story.
The suspects would convince victims that corrupt employees at banks, currency exchange shops and high-end jewellers were involved. They pressured the victims to assist the bogus police investigation by going to these venues and withdrawing large quantities of cash or purchasing foreign currency and expensive watches. Having obtained the victims’ banking information the suspects would move money between a victims accounts to trick them into believing police had given them money to withdraw or spend as the bogus officer instructed. Victims were told to keep what they were doing secret and coached to prepare cover stories in case they were questioned about their withdrawals or purchases.
Once victims had obtained the cash or items, suspects collected it from them. On one occasion, a 68-year-old victim was convinced to hand over £8500 whilst at the funeral of a friend. Other victims were targeted repeatedly over a number of days; with one 85-year-old victim giving the suspects £28,250 over a three day period.
In October 2014 Rahman was detained after attending a victim’s address to collect £3000. Mohib was arrested shortly afterwards. Officers found mobile phones used to contact victims in Mohib’s bedroom. Images found on a phone and a tablet computer contained some of the victims’ personal and account information. A gold Rolex watch worth £20,850 taken from an 80-year-old victim in September 2014 was recovered from a chest of drawers. Mohib and Rahman were charged on October 23 2014.
Detective Constable Will Richards, from Westminster Borough’s Serious Acquisitive Crime Unit, said: “This is a particularly unpleasant version of the courier fraud scam that exploits its victims’ sense of public duty and preparedness to go to extraordinary lengths to help the police. Beyond their significant financial losses, these offences undermine victims’ self-confidence and trust in others. Many were left feeling vulnerable and humiliated. This was a cruel and cunning scam, and the only people who should feel humiliated by it are those responsible.
“These crimes were clearly well planned and practiced. Abdul Mohib kept victims on the phone for several hours and did his best to prevent them from discussing what was happening with their families. He was careful to weave genuine information and police jargon into his conversations. He provided victims with contact details and reference numbers; even inviting some to attend bogus court hearings at Southwark Crown Court. “I hope that today’s result will increase public awareness of this type of crime.”