A Huddersfield man lost his £9,000 savings to a callous gang of fraudsters.
They posed as police officers on the phone to trick elderly and vulnerable victims into handing over cash but have now been jailed for over 40 years.
Trusting pensioners believed the stories that the “officers” were investigating a fraud on their bank account and were persuaded to take money out and hand it over to help with “evidence” in the case.
Leeds Crown Court heard the London-based gang targeted the elderly and vulnerable in different areas of the country including one man in Huddersfield. Some were in their 90s and many suffered health problems.
They were told not to let bank staff handing the money over aware about what was happening since they were the ones suspected of the fraud.
The fraud continued even after some of those involved were arrested. By the time it was uncovered they had got away with £220,000.
One family from Hull said they blamed the crime for contributing to the death of their 82 year-old-mother.
She had handed over her £2,000 “life savings” when she discovered she had been conned she worried about paying bills and lost all her confidence. Her health went downhill.
In a victim impact statement read to the court her son said that the fraud and the “cold hearted mindless scum” behind it had “killed my mum.”
Jailing the fraudsters Judge Rodney Jameson QC said they were motivated by greed: “These were merciless offences and on occasion gratuitously cruel.
“I am entirely satisfied that the lives of some of the victims have been permanently affected in some cases severely. I have no doubt that some of these have hastened death.”
Denise Breen-Lawton prosecuting said the gang “operated with a high level of sophistication” identifying themselves as police officers and even giving a collar number to the victim on the phone. They would spend a considerable time explaining things in detail to gain their trust.
On occasion’s they would ring the victims several times spanning hours to achieve their goal and “had little regard for the mental or physical health of their victims.”
“They invited the victim to call 999 or 101 or the bank to verify who they were if they were not believed immediately. “What in fact happened is that the victim hung up the phone but the defendants did not.”
The telephone line was therefore left open so that when the complainant dialled any number they came back to the fraudsters. “Another one of the gang then pretended on behalf of the bank to verify the identity and existence of the ‘police officer.”
He said the victims were then instructed to go to the bank and withdraw substantial sums of money, “cash that they could ill afford to lose” often their life savings.
“They encouraged the victims to lie to the bank staff and make up stories as to what the money was for stating the bank staff were involved in the fraud.”
They were instructed to ask for the money to be put into and envelope and not to touch it themselves to help with the recovery of fingerprints.
After they got home they were told a courier would arrive to collect the cash, often being given a PIN number to make the collection seem genuine. The victim from Huddersfield handed over £9,400 to the courier who arrived on his doorstep on March 2 last year and never saw his savings again.
At least 90 victims were identified by police ranging from Newcastle to Norfolk, Manchester to Swindon, but some did not fall for the scam and when the fraudsters realised they had not been fooled would become abusive calling one woman “a silly cow” and another “a bitch” when they resisted the calls. Had they succeeded with their further attempts they could have got a further £198,000.
One victim said: “I worked hard all my life for the money and they took it from me in one afternoon.”
On April 8 last year two of the gang Joynal Miah and Kevin Bokanga were arrested on the M1 heading sought with £14,000 in the car much of it collected that day from four victims in Hull, three handing over £2,500 and another £5,400.
The gang leader was Milad Ahmed, 22 who admitted two charges of conspiracy to defraud and was jailed for 11 years.
Joynal Miah, 29 who was found guilty by a jury on both charges was a driver who collected cash. He was jailed for 10 years and six months.
Kevin Bokanga, 22, who also collected cash was found guilty of the second conspiracy and was jailed for five years.
Juber Alom, 31, who was one of the voices on the phone was jailed for six years six months on one charges of conspiracy.
Mahbub Fahim Aziz, 21 another “voice on the phone” was jailed for two years six months for one conspiracy.
Sabir Uddin, 23, who admitted one charge of conspiracy and a common assault was jailed for five years six months. All were from London.
The court heard Uddin was arrested in December 2014 after he was confronted by the son of an elderly couple in Cirencester and assaulted him but was restrained until the police arrived. It was the seizure of Uddin’s phone the exposed the early stages of the fraud.
But Ahmed just recruited others to fill his place and continued with the scam. After Miah and Bokanga’s arrest in April last year the gang instead tried to get victims to make bank transfers to save on collections. One woman from Hull transferred and lost £6,000 of her savings in that way.