Con artists who scammed pensioners including South Tyneside victim out of £200,000 jailed for nearly 10 years
Arris Qumar, 26; Awais Zaman, 21; Mya Haskins, 19, and Adriana Andrade, 19, were all charged with conspiring to commit fraud by false representation.
Detectives identified a total of six victims in South Tyneside, Newcastle Durham, Darlington and West Yorkshire in September 2021, who had all been contacted by fraudsters purporting to be police officers.
The scam, known as courier fraud, saw criminals contact victims by phone and convince them their bank accounts had been scammed, then directing them to supply ‘vital evidence’ in the form of withdrawn cash, purchased valuables, and personal bank details.
Around £200,000 was handed over, with one victim losing £127,000.
A series of raids
Specialist officers from the North-East Regional Organised Crime Unit (NEROCU) launched an investigation and in October 2021, warrants were executed at properties in London, Warwickshire, and the West Midlands with more raids again in the West Midlands in January.
The criminal group were subsequently charged and appeared at Teesside Crown Court.
Andrade was convicted following a guilty plea in August last year, while Qumar, Zaman and Haskins were convicted following a trial in October of this year.
All four appeared before the same court on Friday, December 9:
Qumar, of York Close, Coventry, was sentenced to three years and eight months imprisonment;
Zaman, of Brooklyn Road, Coventry, was sentenced to two years and ten months;
Haskins, of Izod Road, Rugby, Warwickshire, was sentenced to one year and ten months;
Adriana Andrade, of Norman Road, Rugby, Warwickshire, was sentenced to one year and four months.
Detective Constable Andy Thompson, the officer in charge of the case, said it was vital victims of fraud continued to challenge cold-callers and report anything suspicious to police.
“Firstly, I want to thank the victims in this case for their bravery and for working with officers to ensure justice was served at court,” he said.
“This was a particularly callous crime in which the criminals specifically targeted elderly and vulnerable members of our community to fulfil their own personal greed. The investigation was complex in nature, however we ensured that the victims were safeguarded and that we identified those responsible who were brought to justice”
“I want to thank the victims”
“Sadly, many people who find themselves caught up in a complex scam like courier fraud are often unaware they’ve been a victim until it is too late.
“I encourage families to speak to their elderly relatives and educate them around potential scams and fraud and ask them if anyone has called them out of the blue, or if they have recently withdrawn money or handed over any valuables. These conversations are important.”
NEROCU’s Detective Inspector Shaun Fordy added: “This is a great result but our work in detecting and preventing fraud is far from over.
“Along with our partners, we will continue to relentlessly pursue those criminals who seek to scam the elderly, the vulnerable and the unsuspecting.”
If you think you might have been a victim of courier fraud, contact police via 101 or Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. You can also report it online at the Action Fraud website.