South Tyneside student jailed for phone fraud scam worth £20 million

Ravi Jaglan has been jailed.
Ravi Jaglan has been jailed.

A student who laundered cash on behalf of a telephone banking fraud gang worth millions has been put behind bars.

Ravi Jaglan helped process huge sums of money obtained by fraudsters who conned vulnerable customers into handing over their bank details in an elaborate scam.

The 23-year-old, who was studying mechanical engineering at South Tyneside College, tried to recruit fellow students to allow their bank accounts to be used in the fraud in return for cash.

Prosecutors say Jaglan was not the mastermind of the "highly organised criminal gang" but neither was he at the bottom of the hierachy.

Jaglan, who came to the UK on a student visa which has now expired, pleaded guilty to converting criminal property on the basis that around £250,000 of the gang's cash passed through his personal accounts.

At Newcastle Crown Court Judge Robin Mairs jailed Jaglan, of Dean Road, South Shields, for 32 months.

The judge told him: "These frauds cannot operate unless people like you are willing to allow their bank accounts to be used to move the funds around.

"In total, just under £250,000 was moved through your accounts and you were willingly allowing them to be used.

"I accept you did not have any idea of just how enormous this fraud was but you must have known from the figures going through your bank that this was a substantial fraud.

"It was a highly sophisticated, professional scam."

The court heard the "highly organised" criminal gang would cold call victims, telling them their bank accounts had been hacked or somehow the subject of a scam.

The fraudster would pretend to hang up at the end of a conversation where they advise the victim to ring the telephone number on the back of their bank card.

But the conmen would keep the line open while the customer thought they were dialling out to their bank.

The customer would then be duped into believing they were speaking to a legitimate bank worker and persuaded into transferring huge sums of cash into criminals' accounts.

The calls were so convincing, some customers were persuaded to go to their bank to carry out transactions but convinced to say nothing while in the branch in case the fraudsters were employees there.

Kevin Wardlaw, prosecuting, said: "The defendant was part of a highly organised criminal gang who carried out sophisticated telephone frauds on vulnerable victims.

"He did not carry them out himself, but allowed his bank accounts to be used to channel money.

"He recruited other people to lend assistance.

"Such was the gang's sophistication and slickness, they obtained in excess of £20 million in this way.

"The involvement of Ravi Jaglan is less than that amount.

"The prosecution is [that] Ravi Jaglan was more than a mule who allowed his bank accounts to be used and he was higher up the criminal hierarchy."

Mr Wardlaw said the fraudsters had some knowledge of their victims, such as what bank they used.

He added: "They would inform the victim there was fraudulent activity.

"They were instructed to ring the telephone number on the back of their own bank card.

"On ringing the number, the victim assumed they were speaking to their bank. Unfortunately, they were not. The caller had left the line open."

The court heard the many victims who fell prey to the scam were left feeling extremely vulnerable and worried about huge losses of cash and savings.

Graeme Cook, mitigating said Jaglan, who came to the UK in 2013, claims to have made very little profit, no more than £500, through his involvement in the scam between November 2013 and April 2014.

Mr Cook said Jaglan hopes to re-sit some of the exams he failed at college and find work on ships abroad after his release.