Three men given total of 17 years' prison for roles in phone scams
PUBLISHED: 17:31 22 November 2016 | UPDATED: 17:32 22 November 2016
Three men have today (November 22) been sentenced to a total of almost 17 years in prison for their involvement in a series of phone scams which saw victims across the south east conned out of almost half a million pounds.
The men were part of a gang which targeted elderly victims across Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire, London, Suffolk, Surrey and Sussex between May 2015 and January 2016.
In each of the offences, victims were contacted by offenders purporting to be either police officers or bank officials who were investigating fraud committed against the victims.
Once the offenders had gained the victims’ trust, they then convinced them to withdraw large sums of money or, in some cases, purchase high value items, such as jewellery, in order to assist their ‘investigation’.
The victims were then convinced to hand these items to couriers acting on behalf of the offenders.
In one instance, the victim was conned into handing over £166,000 worth of jewellery.
Following an investigation by a specialist team from Hertfordshire Constabulary’s Operation Manhunt unit, 19 people were arrested and charged in connection with 36 offences.
Some of the offenders, the majority of whom were schoolboys, were caught by police as they attended addresses to collect cash from the victims.
The remaining three members of the gang, who were the main organisers of the scams, were sentenced at St Albans Crown Court today.
Zakir Alom aged 25, from Fleet Square, Camden, London, was sentenced to six years and five months after pleading guilty to conspiracy to steal.
Fawaz Miah, aged 21 from Cromer Street, Camden, was sentenced to four years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to steal.
Rashal Tafader, aged 23, from Argyle Square, Camden, London, was sentenced to six years and six months after being found guilty of conspiracy to steal on July 28.
The specialist police team which conducted the investigation was set up in December 2015 to tackle phone scams across the county. The team takes a proactive approach by making use of technology and other methods, meaning they are able to seize any opportunity to intercept fraudsters, make arrests and prevent victims losing money.
Detective Sergeant Jon Leak, who led the investigation, said: “This despicable gang ruthlessly targeted vulnerable members of society for their own selfish gains and I am pleased with today’s sentencing.
“Phone scams can have a devastating effect on the victims, as people often lose vast sums of money as well as their confidence and trust.
“I hope this investigation sends a clear message that we will be relentless in our pursuit of those suspected to be involved in these crimes and bring them to justice.”