Two men were sentenced at Bristol Crown Court yesterday (Tuesday 10 March) for defrauding vulnerable people out of over £88,000.
Rahim Choudhury and Abdul Shafee, both 19, of Quaker Street, London, were sentenced to 38 months and 15 months in prison, respectively.
In early January 2015, Rahim Choudhury (pictured right) pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud offences where 30 victims were defrauded of a total of £88,500.
On 29 January 2015 co-defendant Abdul Shafee (pictured left) entered a guilty plea for conspiracy to commit fraud offences. The prosecution attributed two offender phones to him which had called 13 victims of courier fraud.
Detective Inspector Tony Hubbard, from Avon and Somerset Police, working for Zephyr, said: “Choudhury and Shafee, aged only 19, committed these crimes, predominantly in the South West, to fund their cash-rich lifestyle and have shown no remorse to the victims they have deceived.
“We can see from evidence recovered how they identified vulnerable victims and portrayed their own arrogance and extravagant lifestyle obtained from the misery and loss of others.
“Photographs found on their mobile phones including several expensive cars and watches, and bundles of cash, showed the kind of lifestyle they were living.
“We welcome the custodial sentences imposed against them and this sends a clear message to others to stop now or otherwise face the real prospect of prison.
“The Judge gave a Crown Court Commendation to a taxi driver who became suspicious of someone taking out a large amount of money and reported it to police. He gave police officers the opportunity to deliver the money to London within a matter of hours which led to Choudhury’s arrest. Without his swift action he would not have been caught so soon and we would like to thank him for alerting and assisting us.
“Zephyr is committed to tackling organised crime that targets the most vulnerable in our society and we will relentlessly pursue all those involved in this abhorrent crime.
“Within the south west region victim losses within the past 12 months are in excess of £2 million, with 700 reported crimes, and no doubt many more crimes of this nature go unreported.
“We know right now within the Dorset area victims are being contacted by fraudsters and urge everyone, particularly older people, to be vigilant and report these calls to your local police.”
Offenders of courier fraud often claim to be an officer from the Metropolitan Police and use a variety of pretences that include saying the victim's bank card has been used by somebody that they have in custody.
They then ask the victim to phone the bank to cancel the card and tell the victims that they will send a courier round to collect the card or money.
Meanwhile the fraudster stays on the line and obtains the victim's bank details whilst they think they are phoning the bank. The courier, which is often a legitimate taxi requested by the fraudsters, then calls at the victim's address and collects an envelope containing the card.
There are occasions where high value goods such as jewellery or electrical items have been collected by the courier which the victim has, by direction of the offenders, withdrawn cash from their bank and purchased.
- Children, grandchildren, relatives and friends of the elderly and vulnerable to warn them of the scam.
- Taxi company owners and drivers to be vigilant, especially if approached or asked to courier small packages to London on behalf of elderly people.
- Banks and other financial institutions, in particular counter staff, to be suspicious if elderly customers uncharacteristically withdraw large amounts of cash and query this.
Anyone who receives a suspicious call is urged to:
- Hang up immediately, dial 1471 and note the number that called you.
- If you need to use the same phone wait five minutes, as the fraudsters could still be on the line, or use another phone, perhaps a neighbour’s.
- Report the call to your local police on 101 or through Action Fraud.
Simple guidelines to help you to prevent yourself becoming a victim of courier fraud are:
- NEVER give your PIN or bank details out over the phone
- NEVER withdraw cash and send it anywhere via a courier or taxi
- NEVER send bank cards anywhere via a courier or taxi
- NEITHER the policeor your bank with ever ask for you to do any of the above.
If you can assist police in identifying anyone involved in committing this type of crime, or you have been a victim, please call your local police on 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. You can also contact Action Fraud (National Fraud and Cyber Crime Reporting Centre) on 0300 1232040.
For more information visit www.actionfraud.police.uk