A man has been jailed and a woman given a suspended prison sentence as part of an operation targeting Vishing fraud offences which used bank accounts in South Shields.
At Newcastle Crown Court, Ahsan Shahid, 31, of Motherwell, Scotland, was sentenced to a total of five years and four months imprisonment, with 32 months imprisonment on each count (Fraud by False Representation and Money Laundering) to run consecutively.
At the same court, Nafeesa Shahid, also 31, from Glasgow was sentenced to 22 months imprisonment, suspended for two years.
The pair are part of 21 people arrested across the UK as part of Operation Gunnel which has been led by the North East Regional Serious Operations Unit (NERSOU) investigating telephone scammers and fraudulent activity.
Vishing fraud offences have been committed throughout the UK with the offender calling victims purporting to be from their banks and telling them there has been fraudulent activity on their accounts and they need to transfer their funds to secure accounts.
To persuade the victims the call is genuine they are advised to hang up and call the number on the back of their bank cards, but the offender keeps the telephone line open and passes the phone to another person who then deals with the call.
As the victim is convinced they are speaking to bank staff they unwittingly transfer their money to accounts under the control of the fraudsters.
Proceeds can be traced back to bank accounts linked to South Shields as well as nearby Gateshead.
Detective superintendent Alan Veitch from NERSOU said: "These sentences continue to send a warning to others that police are watching you and we are doing everything in our powers to prevent offenders from targeting our communities.
"Please remember banks, police or officials would not ask you to transfer money into another account .
"If you receive a call of this nature, please contact police.
"Never be afraid to refuse to give any information if you receive such a call, genuine callers will understand your concerns and we would ask everyone to remain vigilant and look out for family, friends and neighbours.
"If you get a call from someone that seems unusual or someone asking for money, please report it to police."
Advice can be found on the Action Fraud Website.