Jailed: £200,000 fraudsters tricked elderly and vulnerable in Shropshire

Fraudsters have been jailed after ripping off elderly and vulnerable people in Shropshire and further afield out of almost £200,000.

Ismail Sarwar
Ismail Sarwar

Eight offenders who took part in a courier fraud operation - in which criminals purport to be police officers or bank officials to obtain details to swindle victims out of their cash - were brought to justice this week.

The London-based group targeted people in Shropshire, Hereford and Sutton Coldfield, before a police investigation in November and December 2019 brought the operation down.

The group cold-called elderly and vulnerable members of the public, pretending to be police officers and encouraging them to help an investigation by withdrawing money from the bank. Couriers would then be arranged, also pretending to be police officers, to attend the victims’ addresses and collect the money.

More than 200 victims were identified by police, with many more targeted. Over 1,000 unique and known landline numbers were contacted. The benefit amount of the conspiracy, for money stolen or attempted to have been stolen was just under £200,000.

The gang was caught after police intercepted one of the frauds taking place, resulting in one of the group ramming a police car and crashing at high speed as he tried to escape.

The men were sentenced at Worcester Crown Court.

Zhaigham Kiyani

Two of those sentenced, Ismail Sarwar and Zhaigham Kiyani had been acting as leaders of the group, calling victims and orchestrating the other defendants travelling from London as couriers to collect a victim’s money.

The other six men were the couriers whose job it was to travel the victims’ home and collect the money they had withdrawn from their bank.

Sarwar and Zhaigham Kiyani were also sentenced for Operation Ronquil – identified after the Hereford CID investigation, whereby they committed the same pattern of offending on a smaller scale in Watford and Welwyn Garden City.

Sarwar, 23, of High Road, Willesden, was jailed for four years and 10 months for three counts of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation.

Kiyani, 27, of Craigmuir Park, Wembley, was jailed for four years for the same charges.

Raja Hussain, 25, of Rowley Close, Wembley, was sentenced to one year and six months imprisonment for one count of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation. Ibrahim Mahmood, 23, of High Road, Willesden, was jailed for two years and five months for conspiracy to commit fraud and dangerous driving.

Dangerous

Tomaso Abbate, 21, of Wembley Park Drive, Wembley, was sentenced to one year and nine months imprisonment for one count of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation.

Usama Saleh, 22, of Freeman Street, Coventry, was jailed for one year and four months for the same charge, as was Vijayseelan Vijaykumar, 21, of Hartlepool Road, Coventry.

Nial Khan, 21, of Dorman Way, London, was sentenced to six months imprisonment, suspended for two years for one count of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation.

Detective Inspector Mark Peters said: “These men, all members of organised crime groups are dangerous, calculated and prey on our vulnerable parents, grandparents and friends. They have no issue with lying to people who trust the police and trust their banks and using fear and intimidation to extract as much of a person’s life savings as possible.

"The money they steal goes back into the pot of funds used for countless other serious crimes and often on an international scale.

Usama Saleh

“The defendants all entered guilty pleas at various stages of proceedings which have been ongoing since January 2019. The judge described the offences as manipulative and cruel and targeting vulnerable and elderly victims. The conspiracy was sophisticated in its planning and research and committed on an industrial scale and he described Sarwar and Kiyani as having central roles to the offending.

“Ibrahim Mahmood was found guilty and sentenced regarding his dangerous driving when colleagues from Hereford CID conducted a ‘sting operation’ in Herefordshire on 15 November 2019. Detectives had intercepted one of the frauds in progress and lay in wait at the victim’s home then catching Mahmood and Hussain attempting to collect their money.

“Mahmood deliberately rammed his vehicle into a police car a number of times before being involved in a high speed collision with two members of the public on the A49 which caused extensive damage and injuries. Following a foot pursuit they were both arrested and a fortunately those officers involved didn’t receive any serious injuries.

“I want to remind the public we will not stop hunting these sort of people and bringing them to justice. To help us prevent more people from falling victim to this fraud, please remind friends and family that the police will never ask you to hand over cash or valuables. If you receive a call of this nature, do not provide any personal or financial details, hang up and wait 10 minutes (to ensure the call has disconnected) before calling police on 101 (or 999 in an emergency) to report it.”

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