A husband and wife from Scotland have been sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court after admitting their involvement in Fraud and Money Laundering Offences.
Ahsan SHAHID (31) and Nafeesa SHAHID (32) were arrested in January 2015 at their home address near Glasgow by officers from the North East Regional Fraud Team, following the unit’s investigation into fraudulent telephone calls made to members of the public by persons purporting to be bank staff.
Victims were falsely informed that their bank accounts had been compromised, and that they should transfer the balance of their accounts to supposed ‘safe’ accounts; which in reality were private accounts held by others involved in the conspiracy.
Earlier this year a number of individuals living in the North East were convicted at Newcastle Crown Court for organising the use of fictitious ‘safe’ accounts, including one Ravi JAGLAN from the South Shields area, who was sentenced to 2 years 8 months.
Detective Constable Steve Lambert, who works for the Regional Fraud Team, which is made up of staff from Northumbria, Durham and Cleveland Police, said-
“Customers should never receive a legitimate request from the Police or their bank asking them to safeguard money by switching it from one account to another or withdrawing it as cash. Banks have it within their power to simply freeze any compromised account. If anybody gets a call like this please call the Police immediately, preferably via a different telephone, as the offenders will often keep the line open and play a dial tone down it to give the impression that their call has ended when it hasn’t”
When officers searched the home address of the SHAHID’s they discovered notebooks and computer files containing sensitive financial information relating to hundreds of people living throughout the UK, a number of whom were later confirmed as victims of Fraud.
Stolen property, counterfeit goods and £10,000 in cash was also seized, along with a mountain of designer shoes, handbags, clothing, and expensive jewellery valued at over £100,000.
Investigations into the couple’s finances showed that over £250,000 cash had been paid into their own personal bank accounts at a time when they were supposedly dependent upon State Benefits. This money was used to fund a luxurious lifestyle, including holidays abroad in Dubai.
Ahsan SHAHID received a total of 5 years 4 months imprisonment for Fraud and Money Laundering. His wife Nafeesa SHAHID received 22 months suspended for 2 years for Money Laundering .
DC Steve Lambert added-
“We welcome these custodial sentences for individuals who have heartlessly targeted the savings of numerous people, taking money typically saved over an entire working life; which they have then selfishly frittered away on living the high life. The impact of these offences has been devastating for the victims, both financially and with respect to their peace of mind. We will pursue any offenders of this type no matter where they live in order to protect our communities.”
The Police will now make an application to the Court for confiscation of the money and valuables seized from the SHAHID’s home address so that compensation can be paid to their victims.