Four men who pretended to be police officers as they conned over £100,000 out of elderly and vulnerable victims in a nationwide fraud have been sentenced to a total of 15 years at Leeds Crown Court.
The men were sentenced last Friday (18 November) were all from London, although the 60 offences were reported across 13 different areas of England - in Humberside, Staffordshire, Lancashire, Lincolnshire, Bedfordshire, Norfolk, Northamptonshire, Kent, Essex, Sussex, Hertfordshire, the Thames Valley area and London area. Reports of a similar nature were also received from people in West Yorkshire.
Malik Amer, 24 of Monthorpe Road (three years, seven months), Shah Ahmed, 22, of Toynbee Street (four years, seven months), Rahim Ali, 22, of Vernon Road (three years, six months) and Ruhel Miah, 19, of Chilton Street (four years, 11 months) admitted conspiracy to commit fraud.
The sentences followed a 15-month investigation by the Yorkshire and Humber Regional Organised Crime Unit.
A further man from London admitted one offence of fraud and will be sentenced at a later date.
The investigation by the Leeds-based team started after a number of fraud cases involving people pretending to be police officers were reported to police in the Yorkshire and Humber region. The group involved would phone unsuspecting victims with the caller pretending to be a police officer claiming to be investigating fraudulent transactions or activities within the victim's bank account. The bogus police officer would then try and convince his victim that he needed their money to be able to investigate the fraud.
From this point the victim was informed that they needed to go to the bank and withdraw a large amount of money (usually between £5,000 and £20,000). The bogus officer would then send someone around who would also pretend to be a police officer or someone working for the police to the victim's house to collect the money.
An alternative method the group used to collect their ill-gotten gains was to get the victim to directly transfer the cash (again somewhere between £5,000 to £20,000) to another 'safe' bank account.
As officers began to investigate the cases it was quickly established that the offenders were committing similar offences across the country. Many of the recorded crimes did not succeed - but they still managed to con ten victims out of a total of £118,000. The largest single amount defrauded was £37,000.
Speaking after the men were sentenced, Detective Constable John Davies, of the Yorkshire and Humber Regional Organised Crime Unit, said:
"These four individuals are callous - they preyed upon often vulnerable and / or elderly people and in many cases tricked them out of their life savings.
"To compound their behaviour they pretended to be police officers - the very people in society who look to protect people from such wrong doing.
"We know, having spoken to the victims and their families that the experience was a terrible ordeal for them and many are still to fully recover from the trauma. Thankfully many of their attempted scams failed and people saw through their mask of respectability.
"This criminality spread far and wide across England - the group did not respect local borders but their activities have caught up with them and I am pleased the judge has recognised the seriousness of their offending by handing down the sentences he has. They now have time inside to consider the consequences of their actions."