Two conmen who targeted elderly people as part of an organised crime group have been sentenced at Gloucester Crown Court.
Mohammed Zaman Ahmed, aged 26 and of Quex Road, Kilburn, London, and Kawsar Ahmed, aged 25 and of Sydenham Hill Estate in Lewisham, London, were part of a group of six men who defrauded vulnerable victims across the country out of hundreds of thousands of pounds.
The pair were sentenced to three years and eight months and four years imprisonment respectively for the courier fraud offences yesterday (Tuesday 19 December).
The other members of the group, Mohammed Rahman, Muhammed Maarjan, Muhammed Hussain and Shoriful Islam, were sentenced to a total of more than 20 years in prison in May 2022.
Ahmed and Ahmed had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud in 2021. Kawsar Ahmed was also sentenced for a separate offence of possession with intent to supply Class A and Class B drugs, for which he received a consecutive two years and six months imprisonment.
The six men had pretended to be police officers as part of their scam. Before their arrest in April and May 2021, the gang had contacted thousands of potential victims across the country by telephone, targeting a region for a number of days before moving ontothe next.
Once they had found a victim, the offenders, pretending to be police officers, patiently relayed a convincingly disturbing tale of a fraud investigation that had identified counterfeit currency being transferred into their bank accounts. They were encouraged to go and remove thousands of pounds from their accounts immediately in order to hand it over to a “courier” sent by “the police”.
In total, they conned at least 60 vulnerable victims out of more than £290,000, dating back to 2019, and attempted to contact many thousands more, making around 7,000 calls to potential victims between January and April 2021.
Most of the victims were over the age of 75, with two aged 99. Some of them were terminally ill, recently widowed or had dementia and other age related issues. Many victims have been unable to recoup their loss.
Officers from Gloucestershire Constabulary’s Serious and Organised Crime Unit began investigating the gang after discovering a victim in Cirencester.
The team worked closely with more than 20 other forces across the country to identify further victims and collate evidence, as well as liaising with City of London Police, which leads on courier fraud nationally.
Following intensive work by officers across Gloucestershire Constabulary, a warrant was executed in Theberton Street, London on 6 April 2021.
When members of the gang tried to escape through an upstairs window, officers gave chase across the rooftops before catching and arresting them.
Subsequent searches found cash, expensive designer clothing, Rolex watches, a Mercedes Benz and an Audi, which were all seized by officers.
Detective Inspector Matt Phillips, from the Serious and Organised Crime Unit, said: “We’re pleased that these men have now been sentenced for the misery they caused so many vulnerable and elderly people.
“This result is testimony to the immense hard work from many officers at Gloucestershire Constabulary, who went above and beyond to ensure that we could show just how low these men were willing to stoop.
“I want any gangs who try to target the people in our communities to know that we will not sit back but will actively pursue them for their crimes, not just in Gloucestershire but anywhere in the country.
“I hope that this sentence will bring some peace to the men and women they targeted.”
Kevin Hansford, Unit Head Prosecutor for the CPS' Serious Economic Organised and International Directorate, said: “These two fraudsters presented themselves in a convincing way to victims, securing the trust of hundreds of elderly people through their lies.
“The sole purpose of this criminal activity was to enrich themselves, at the expense of vulnerable people who badly needed their hard-earned savings and pension income.
“I would like to thank the many victims who supported this prosecution and the hard-working police officers who enabled us to prove the case against this gang’s callous criminal enterprise.”
In the UK last year, more than £10 million was lost to courier fraud of this kind.
It is important to remember that your bank or police will never call you to verify personal banking details. They will also never offer to pick up your money or debit or credit card by courier.
If you need to call your bank back to check, only do so after waiting at least five minutes. Even though you have hung up, the fraudsters may stay on the line to pretend to be your bank.
If you can, use a different phone line to call your bank. You should never give control of your debit or credit card to a stranger. Remember to only ever hand a credit or debit card over to a bank official at your bank. If the card is cancelled, you should destroy it yourself.