REVEALED: The courier fraud gang jailed for 21 years after targeting elderly and vulnerable victims in the North East

Five men have been locked up after a series of courier fraud crimes were identified in the North East that saw elderly and vulnerable victims targeted.

Between late 2018 and early 2019, police discovered a series of courier fraud crimes in the North East that saw offenders target elderly and vulnerable victims for their own financial gain.

The complex scam saw criminals contact their victims via telephone pretending to be police officers and claimed that their bank savings were at risk.

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Victims were then instructed to attend their bank and withdraw large amounts of cash that would be collected by the “officers” for fingerprinting and on other occasions, the victims were instructed to purchase high value jewellery for the fake investigation.

The five men had scammed more than £700,000 from victims across the UK.

A total of 16 victims throughout the UK were identified, who in total had lost over £700,000 at the hands of the crime group – with one victim losing over £450,000.

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NERSOU identified five key suspects in the London area who acted as the callers, organisers and couriers.

The five men, Fawaz Miah, 26, Fras Abdulkarim, 20, Abdul Olayinka, 19, Noor Sharif, 20, and Sahil Zaman, 22, were identified, arrested and later charged with conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation and money laundering offences.

Sahil Zaman was convicted of Conspiracy to Commit Fraud by False Representation and Money Laundering and sentenced to nine years.

In August 2021, three of the men, Miah, Abdulkarim and Olayinka, pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation, however Zaman and Sharif denied the crimes and faced a trial.

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On Friday, January 28, Zaman and Sharif were convicted of conspiracy to commit fraud and money laundering offences by a jury at Durham Crown Court.

All five men returned to court on Monday, January 31, where they were sentenced to a total of over 21 years.

Detective Constable Gillian Coulson, ones of the officers running the investigation, said: “This is a cruel crime in which criminals target the most vulnerable members of our community and steal their life savings.

Noor Sharif was convicted of Conspiracy to Commit Fraud by False Representation and Money Laundering and sentenced to two years and 11 months.
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“This is a great outcome for the victims and one which protects the public from further offending.

“We remain dedicated to pursuing anyone who seeks to defraud others and we encourage people to look out for vulnerable family members and friends and to challenge anyone on the phone asking for money or valuables.

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“Please ring the police immediately if you notice anything suspicious. Police officers or your bank will never ask you to hand over money, or transfer funds. If you receive a call like this, do not interact, hang up and report it immediately.”

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Fawaz Miah pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Commit Fraud by False Representation and was sentenced to 6 years.

Detective Sgt Shaun Fordy added: “As part of Operation Sentinel, our initiative to tackle serious and organised crime, we will continue the vigorous pursuit of criminals who target and exploit vulnerable people and we will bring them before the courts.”

Anyone who thinks they may have been a victim of courier fraud is urged to contact police via 101 or Action Fraud immediately by calling 0300 123 2040.

You can also report it online at the Action Fraud website.

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Abdul Olayinka pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Commit Fraud by False Representation and was sentenced to 21 months, suspended for two years.
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Fras Abdulkarim pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Commit Fraud by False Representation and was sentenced to two years, suspended for two years.