Gang jailed for £400k accounts fraud
Group of five, including former bank employees, sentenced for combined 17 years
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The five men, who colluded to siphon off huge sums before laundering the money and sending it overseas to be withdrawn, were convicted of various fraud charges.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removed through a combination of cash withdrawals and large transfers sent to overseas accounts where the funds were withdrawn.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.