Six convicted for £100K fraud that began with a single button press
Five people have been jailed for over 10 years following a nationwide £100K fraud investigation by Surrey Police.
Investigators from Surrey Police Serious and Organised Crime Unit and Financial Investigation Unit identified over 70 victims and over 300 fraudulent transactions by the gang, which was active from 2012 through to 2014. A sixth man is awaiting sentencing.
A single button press was key to the whole fraud...
Guildford Crown Court heard how Arslan Saghir (25); and Iqra Hussain (25) stole sensitive customer details while working at Vodafone stores across Surrey and Hampshire; and also Manchester (where Iqra was studying law at university).
While processing customer details for an upgrade, the pair would press “Print Screen” before submitting a credit check. They passed a screengrab (containing the victim’s personal data) to Woking-based Kamran Hussain (31), and brothers Zain (25) and Faheem (23) Ali Khan. These three men used the data to commit identity fraud – draining their victims’ bank accounts, taking out credit and contracts in the victim’s name, and stealing their money.
The men bought “background checks” on victims using card details stolen from other victims; and Faheem called telephone banking pretending to be the victims - transferring money from savings, and extending overdrafts. Having emptied the victim’s accounts, the men would take out a “payday loan” in their victims’ names and extract that money as well.
Faheem also used the stolen details to take out expensive mobile phone contracts with a Carphone Warehouse telesales call centre, using the sixth defendant Hassan Hussain (27) (who worked for Carphone warehouse) as an inside man. The phones were delivered to the fraudsters home addresses in Woking and presumably sold on.
Much of the gang’s spending was on living a life of luxury – buying expensive clothes and jewellery; ordering fast food, alcohol and cigarettes to be delivered to their homes; and booking hotel rooms for nights away.
Detective Inspector Matt Durkin said:
“This gang were fast and thorough – they’d empty their victims’ bank accounts within a couple of days, then take out further credit in the name of their victims and attempt to extract that as well.
“I want to pay tribute to the meticulous work of investigating officer Steve Pott and financial investigator Graham Parker who investigated this case. Every victim had to be identified and interviewed, and every line of fraud had to be cross checked with the victims and the businesses that were targetted. Time and again the delivery addresses, telephone numbers and internet IP addresses came back to Zain, Faheem and Kamran.”
Helen Ellwood from the CPS said:
“There was a large volume of compelling IT evidence in this case, which helped the CPS to prove that all the defendants were complicit with the fraud and all had either obtained or used people’s identities as part of this deception.
“Some of the defendants worked in shops serving the public and taking private information from them, including their credit card and bank details. None of the victims expected such details to then be passed to others for fraudulent use and this was a gross breach of the trust that customers had placed in them.”
The Crowns counsel, Graham Smith and Carolina Cabral of Essex Street Chambers, provided relentless support to the investigators in preparing the case for court. They took a complex case and presented it in a manner that allowed the jury to follow the case with ease. This led to unanimous verdicts from the jury on the three men that went to trial.
Details of the individual charges, sentencing and pleas
Protect yourself by spotting fraud quickly
This fraud was based on a breach of trust, which can be very difficult to prevent, but there are things you can do to reduce any subsequent impact by detecting fraudulent activity on your accounts quickly and responding quickly:
Spotting and minimising fraud quickly
- Check your statements carefully and report anything suspicious to the bank or financial service provider concerned.
- If something arrives in the post (like an insurance policy or phone bill) that you don’t recognise, check it with your bank and the company concerned immediately.
- Consider using a credit report checking service to alert you to any key changes on your credit file that could indicate potential fraudulent activity:
- You can get a copy of your Credit Reference File from the three Credit Reference Agencies for only £2 each.
- It is particularly helpful to check your personal credit file 2-3 months after you have moved house.
- If you suspect unusual activity, act quickly – you mustn’t ignore the problem. Even though you didn’t order those goods or open that bank account, the bad debts will end up under your name and address.
- If you believe you’re a victim of identity fraud involving plastic cards (e.g. credit and debit cards), online banking or cheques, you must report it to your bank as soon as possible who will report any case of criminal activity to the police.
- If you think you’re a victim of another kind of identity fraud, you must report the matter to the relevant organisation. Depending on their advice, you should then alert your local police force.
For further advice and guidance on staying safe, visit ActionFraud. Likewise if you have been a victim of fraud, please report to police on 101 or ActionFraud on 0300 123 2040.