Phone scam fraudsters who struck in Elm and March during their crime spree jailed for total of more than 10 years

Mohammed Ahmed Miah.

Mohammed Ahmed Miah. - Credit: Archant

A gang of fraudsters who swindled elderly and vulnerable victims across the country - including in Elm and March - out of £177,000 by claiming to be police officers have been jailed for a total of more than 10 years.

Mohammed Hussain.

Mohammed Hussain. - Credit: Archant

Shamsul Islam, 25, Mohammed Ahmed Miah, 19, and Mohammed Hussain, 18, made more than 2,500 cold calls between August 2013 and March 2014, telling recipients that they were a victim of fraud.

The victims were told to call the police, or their bank to confirm, but the fraudsters actually stayed on the line to continue the façade.

The victims were then ordered to withdraw large sums of cash from the bank, and to say it was in order to buy a car or pay for a holiday so an not to raise suspicion – with bank staff purportedly in on the scam.

The gang would then arrange for an unsuspecting courier to collect the cash which the victim was told to would be hidden in a shoebox.

Shamsul Islam.

Shamsul Islam. - Credit: Archant

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In February, a woman in her 80s in Elm was told that someone had taken £5,000 from her account and replaced it with counterfeit money. She was persuaded to go to a bank and withdraw the cash and give it to a courier in a shoebox.

Also that month, a man in March was called by someone claiming to be an officer who had arrested two people for stealing £6,000 from their account.

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He eventually withdrew the cash and handed to a courier after ‘confirming’ the theft with his bank (in reality the fraudsters had stayed on the line).

The fraudsters were caught when one taxi driver became suspicious and called police as he drove back to London with cash. Officers from Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU) were able to identify 44 cases which totalled £177,430 during the 10 month period.

They linked the three, plus collectors Alfie Powell and Dominic DeSouza, through phone records.

Detectives linked seven mobile handsets which were being used to make calls from 39 different telephone numbers.

The five were sentenced at St Albans Crown Court on Friday.

Islam, of Priory Green Estate, London, who provided the base for the gang at King’s Cross, was jailed for five years. Miah, of Ampton Street, and Hussain, of Collier Street, London, were each sentenced to 18 months.

DeSouza, 22, of Charlton Place, Islington, London, was jailed for 27 months.

All four had admitted conspiracy to defraud. Islam also admitted possession of cannabis with intent to supply.

Powell, of Pollards Close, London, who admitted money laundering, was given a 12-month community order with 40 hours’ unpaid work.

Detective Inspector Bart Haley from ERSOU said: “This gang made a huge amount of calls in order to identify and target their victims.

“Many have been tricked out of huge amounts of cash and we’re pleased to have been able to now get them justice.

“I would urge people to be vigilant and look out for elderly or vulnerable friends and relatives. Police or banks will never call you up out of the blue to ask for personal details or cash.

“If you receive such a call, use a mobile phone or neighbour’s phone to call 999.”

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