Gang jailed for £400k ac­counts fraud

Group of five, in­clud­ing former bank em­ploy­ees, sen­tenced for com­bined 17 years

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS - By Robert Cum­ber robert.cum­ber@trin­i­tymir­

A FORMER bank em­ployee was part of a gang of fraud­sters who stole more than £400,000 from cus­tomers’ ac­counts.

The five men, who col­luded to siphon off huge sums be­fore laun­der­ing the money and send­ing it over­seas to be with­drawn, were con­victed of var­i­ous fraud charges.

They were sen­tenced at Har­row Crown Court on Wednesday June 8 to a to­tal of 17 years be­hind bars.

They are Su­nil Lal, 30, of Chatsworth Cres­cent, Houn­slow – sen­tenced to four years’ im­pris­on­ment; Man­deep Kalsi, 28, of Wil­low Cres­cent West, Denham, Uxbridge – two years and eight months; Hardeep Bharya, 30, of Ro­seville Road, Hayes – three years and four months; Ed­die Lakes, 40, of Point Wharf Lane, Brent­ford – four years; and Parshotam Ma­hey, of Pin­fold Cres­cent, Wolver­hamp­ton, West Mid­lands – three years.

Kalsi worked at the West Eal­ing branch of Lloyds bank, where he al­lowed some­one to use false ID to pose as a client want­ing to trans­fer money.

He then at­tempted two trans­fers of around £100,000, one of which was blocked by an­other mem­ber of staff.

The stolen funds from the suc­cess­ful trans­fer were cred­ited to bo­gus busi­ness ac­counts set up by Ma­hey and Lakes.

Lal worked at the Rich­mond branch of Hal­i­fax, where he cre­ated joint bank ac­counts link­ing wealthy cus­tomers with other ac­count hold­ers re­cruited by the gang to act as ‘money mules’.

The gang then trans­ferred two sums of around £100,000 each out of the joint ac­counts and into other ac­counts con­trolled by peo­ple act­ing on in­struc­tions.

An ad­di­tional fraud­u­lent trans­fer of around £117,000, iden­ti­fied as be­ing con­nected to the gang, also went through the busi­ness ac­count or­gan­ised by Lakes.

The stolen money was re­moved through a com­bi­na­tion of cash with­drawals and large trans­fers sent to over­seas ac­counts where the funds were with­drawn.

The Ded­i­cated Card and Pay­ment Crime Unit (DCPCU), which in­ves­ti­gated the racket, said Bharya had acted as the re­cruit­ing agent by per­suad­ing Lal and Kalsi to take part.

The scam was iden­ti­fied by fraud in­ves­ti­ga­tors at the banks and passed to the DCPCU, a po­lice unit which is spon­sored by the bank­ing in­dus­try.

In­ves­ti­ga­tor Paul Blum­son, of the DCPCU, said: “This was a highly or­gan­ised gang us­ing cor­rupt bank staff to tar­get cus­tomer ac­counts with large bal­ances and then laun­der the stolen frauds through busi­ness ac­counts cre­ated us­ing off-the-shelf com­pany names.

“Two bank staff have, by their ac­tions, not only lost their liveli­hoods and en­sured that they will never work in the bank­ing in­dus­try again, they have also lost their free­dom.

“We are par­tic­u­larly pleased that not only were those di­rectly in­volved in the fraud brought to jus­tice, but those that as­sist th­ese crim­i­nal gangs and with­out whom they could not op­er­ate, the money laun­der­ers, have also been con­victed of their crimes.”

The DCPCU said steps were be­ing taken to re­claim the stolen money through the Pro­ceeds of Crime Act.

Bharya ad­mit­ted two counts of con­spir­acy to com­mit fraud by abuse of po­si­tion, one of pos­sess­ing or con­trol­ling an ar­ti­cle for use in fraud and an­other of dis­hon­estly mak­ing a false rep­re­sen­ta­tion to make a gain.

Kalsi ad­mit­ted two counts of con­spir­acy to com­mit fraud by abuse of po­si­tion.

Lal and Ma­hey were both found guilty of con­spir­acy to de­fraud, which they had de­nied.

Lakes was found guilty of two counts of con­spir­acy to de­fraud, both of which he had de­nied.

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