A JUDGE warned bank staff they will go to prison if they get involved in large scale frauds as he jailed a Huddersfield man.
The Honorary Recorder of Bradford Judge James Stewart QC said the banking system had to have the confidence of the general public as he jailed two bank staff for their part in a scam which netted more than £250,000 for fraudsters.
Huddersfield man Mohammed Alam, 28, was locked up for three years after he was found guilty by a jury of involvement in a conspiracy to defraud which resulted in £145,000 being removed from the account of an unsuspecting customer of Lloyds TSB.
Alam, of Blackmoorfoot Road, was working as a personal banking manager at the Thornbury branch of the bank in Bradford in 2008 when he helped to fraudulently transfer the cash to another conspirator, Bilal Malik, who spent the money.
The judge told Alam yesterday: “What benefit, if any, you received for this fraud I will never know.
“You were, I accept, under Malik’s influence but you could have reported the matter and you didn’t.
“You went along with the fraud abusing your position of trust and leading to a loss of £145,000.
“Bank personnel must know and the message must go out to them that if they get involved in fraud in such large amounts, to prison they will go.”
Bradford Crown Court heard that 33-year-old Malik, of Birch Street, Bradford, was also involved in similar cases involving two other bank workers.
Amreen Mahmood, 29, who had been working as a personal banking manager at a Bradford city centre branch of Lloyds TSB was also found guilty of conspiracy to defraud after she helped Malik to transfer £109,000 from another customer’s account.
On that occasion, again in 2008, Malik was assisted by retired care worker Jane Robinson who was then involved in buying Rolex watches, euros and clothing with the stolen cash over a two-day period.
Mahmood, of Airedale College Terrace, Bradford, was locked up for two years and 58-year-old Robinson, of Waverton Green, Bradford, also received a two-year prison term after she was found guilty of conspiracy to defraud and converting criminal property.
Judge Stewart told Mahmood she was a bright woman of good character who grossly abused her position of trust at the bank.
He said Robinson had been offered £2,000 to allow her account to be used to launder the cash, but he accepted she had never received any payment.
“You went through the charade at Mahmood’s bank and then went on a spending spree buying Rolex watches, euros and clothes to a value of £109,000 all of which I accept was not kept by you but by others,’’ said Judge Stewart. “It must have been apparent to you, naive or not, that what you were doing was grossly dishonest.’’
A third bank worker, 29-year-old Minakshi Mahay, of Deanwood Avenue, Bradford, was given an intensive alternative to custody sentence after she was also convicted of conspiracy to defraud.
She had been employed as a cashier at the HSBC bank on Manchester Road, Bradford, in 2008 when she carried out fraudulent transactions on Malik’s behalf.
The court heard she was persuaded to transfer £11,500 from two accounts and an attempt was also made to obtain another £10,000 from the account of an 88-year-old woman.
Mahay claimed threats were made against her and her family and Judge Stewart said he was prepared, with some hesitation, to sentence her on that basis.
She will be supervised for the next 12 months and must do 100 hours unpaid work for the community.
Mahay will also be subject to a six-month night-time curfew.
Malik has admitted involvement in the offences, but his sentence has been adjourned to await the preparation of a psychiatric report.
Bradford South detectives Ian Broadbent and Alan Sergeant were the investigating officers. Det Con Sergeant said: “Consumed by the prospect of obtaining a considerable quantity of money for personal gain, these individuals systematically went about targeting high street banks.
“In utilising positions of responsibility and fraudulent documentation, they believed they could go unnoticed in removing thousands of pounds from unsuspecting account holders.
“Their greed, however, was ultimately their undoing as it prompted a lengthy and professional investigation into their dealings and has resulted in today’s positive outcome.
“A simple fingerprint taken from a cheque book, for instance, enabled us to bring the key individuals of this case together and uncover the scale of their criminality.
“The police and the banks take fraud related incidents extremely seriously and have measures in place to identify instances when it does occur.
“Hopefully today’s sentence will make clear to others the consequences of being involved in such activity.’’