Fraudsters Ordered to Pay Back Proceeds of Crime to Elderly Victims
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Five men were made subject of Confiscation Orders at Worcester Crown Court on Friday 13 December, following their part in an organised crime group who committed telephone and courier fraud offences against the elderly and vulnerable.
Between April and June 2016, telephone fraud offences took place across 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.
Fifteen victims were persuaded to hand over money, with a total of over £200,000 being stolen. A lengthy investigation followed under Operation Hyperion, led by officers from West Mercia Police working with a number of other police forces, in particular Cumbria Police, who had also commenced an operation into the group.
Eight men were sentenced on 11 February 2019 at Worcester Crown Court to more than 21 years for their roles in the nationwide telephone and courier fraud scam. A further two men were sentenced on 25 June to eight months for their involvement in the scam, however their sentences were later varied upon appeal. Five members of the group are awaiting sentence, which will follow the trial of the remaining 3 defendants to be held in March 2020.
On Friday, at Worcester Crown His Honour Judge Cartwright granted 5 Confiscation Orders under the Proceeds of Crime Act (2002), further to convictions obtained as a result of Operation Hyperion.
*all ages correct as of 12 Feb 2019
Rejwanul ISLAM, 26, of Wroxall Road, Dagenham who was involved in co-ordinating the group and making direct contact with victims on the telephone, had previously been sentenced to 6 years imprisonment, in February 2019. He was deemed to have benefitted by £213,000.00 for his role in the fraud, despite this Islam was deemed to have only £1,500.00 available and he was ordered to pay this within 3 months or face a default sentence of 14 days imprisonment.
Orders were also made against 3 brothers, Mohammed Nasir MIAH, Mohammed Nawaz MIAH and Mohammed Nazeem MIAH, who had been central to the group, acting as couriers visiting vulnerable victims across the country to collect cash and bank cards from them.
Mohammed Nasir MIAH, 24, of Parkers Circus, Chipping Norton who was involved as a courier, collecting cash from victims, had previously been sentenced to 18 months imprisonment (suspended for 2 years), in February 2019. He was deemed to have benefitted by £10,520.00 for his role in the fraud, despite this MIAH was deemed to have only £213.00 available and he was ordered to pay this within 3 months or face a default sentence of 7 days imprisonment.
Mohammed Nawaz MIAH, 22, of Parkers Circus, Chipping Norton who was heavily involved as a courier, collecting cash from victims, had previously been sentenced to 3 years imprisonment, in February 2019. He was deemed to have benefitted by £213,000.00 for his role in the fraud but had no assets available and was ordered to pay a nominal amount of £1.00 within 3 months or face a default sentence of one day.
Mohammed Nazeem MIAH, 20, of Parkers Circus, Chipping Norton was also heavily involved as a courier in the group and had previously been sentenced to 30 months imprisonment in February 2019. He was deemed to have benefitted by £213,000.00 for his role in the fraud, however, he was deemed to have only £720.00 available, which he was ordered to repay within 3 months or face a default sentence of 14 days.
Mohammed Kashem, 28, of Guilfoot, Camden who was the uncle of the three brothers and was also involved as a courier, had previously been sentenced to 4 years imprisonment, in February 2019. He was deemed to have benefitted by £213,000.00 for his role in the fraud but had no assets available and was ordered to pay a nominal amount of £1.00 within 3 months or face a default sentence of one day.
His Honour Judge Cartwright ordered that all sums repaid through the confiscation orders were to be directed as compensation to victims. A further 7 defendants had their confiscation proceedings in this case, adjourned until 29 January 2020. One man will face confiscation proceedings after the further trial in March 2020, along with any others convicted and for whom confiscation is deemed appropriate.
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.
“Cases like this highlight the hard work and dedication by officers and staff across the forces involved, to bring these individuals responsible for serious and organised fraud to justice. This case has involved many hours of painstaking investigative work by both the criminal investigation teams and also by financial investigators.
"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.
“Being able to remove assets under Proceeds of Crime Act can then compensate the victims of the crime, bringing some comfort to those who were so cruelly targeted.”West Mercia Police would like to remind people that the police will NEVER ask you to hand over cash or valuables. If you receive a call of this nature, do not provide any details, hang up and wait 10 minutes (to ensure the call has disconnected) before calling police on 101 (or 999 in an emergency) to report it. Members of the public are urged to pass on this information to elderly and vulnerable friends and relatives.
For more information about how you can protect yourself from this kind of fraud, visit https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/a-z-of-fraud/courier-fraud
Issued by AG, Corporate Communications