A Manchester crime group responsible for fraudulently ordering more than half-a-million pound worth of goods in a credit card scam have been jailed.
On the 13th January 2015, eight members of this criminal network were sentenced at Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court for their roles in the scam, which potentially involved more than 2,000 businesses across the country.
The investigation by Greater Manchester Police Fraud Investigation Team identified the gang fraudulently ordered more than £600,000 worth of goods from 57 companies across the UK.
However, officers believe this was just the tip of the iceberg as analysis of phone records suggests they contacted more than 2,000 potential victims and couriers and that the actual loss could be in excess of 2 million pounds.
Between June 2011 and November 2012, this gang contacted multiple businesses across the UK, ordering a variety of goods using stolen and compromised credit cards obtained from illegal online forums.
They then placed orders for hundreds of thousands of pounds on goods such as cabling, tiles, food, alcohol, fridges, cars, high-value metal and other wholesale goods.
The following offenders pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud:
Ammar Khalid (born 10/10/1987), of Elder Street, Rochdale, was sentenced to 4 years imprisonment
Irfan Khan (born 25/03/1988), of King Street South, Rochdale, was sentenced to 3 years 4 months imprisonment
Ahmed Sohail Pasha (born 15/12/1987), of Milkstone Road, Rochdale, was sentenced to 3 years 4 months imprisonment
Shazad Arshad (born 10/10/1994) of Anne Linne Close, Rochdale, was sentenced to 18 months in a Young Offenders Institute
Hamza Mughal (born 01/08/1988), of Surma Close, Rochdale, was sentenced to 2 years imprisonment.
Faraz Malik (born 04/10/1986) of Bosworth Street, Rochdale, was sentenced to 2 years imprisonment
The following offenders pleaded guilty to handling stolen goods:
Aqeel Malik (born 26/11/1986) of Bertha Road, Rochdale, was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment suspended for 12 months, 200 hours unpaid work and a 9 month supervision order.
Mohammed Sohail Khan (born 12/08/1988) of Queens Road, Oldham, was convicted of handling stolen goods and sentenced to 6 months imprisonment suspended for 12 months, 200 hours unpaid work and a 9 month supervision order.
Two other defendents, Usman Shafa and Christopher Goodhew are to be sentenced on 2 February 2015 for handling stolen goods.
The gang adopted aliases and contacted businesses, using the stolen credit card details to pay for the goods over the phone. Initially there were no concerns as the payments were successfully processed using remote payment machines. Subsequently the goods were delivered to a variety of locations across Rochdale.
Private couriers were met by the gang, the goods were unloaded and shortly afterwards collected by pre-arranged buyers.
Several weeks later, the companies discovered they had been defrauded and the true account holders, whose details had been stolen, reported the unusual transactions to their banks. As a result, the funds were taken from the companys accounts leaving them at a loss.
The Fraud Investigation Unit’s inquiries began in November 2011 when police responded to a report of suspicious activity on Grandidge Street, Rochdale, where officers found Faraz Malik and his cousin Aqeel Malik unloading a quantity of stolen steel.
As the investigation progressed, officers also seized quantities of dog food, fridges and alcohol which had all been bought using compromised details.
Officers also recovered phone records and text messages between the gang which showed an exchange of card details, aliases and potential targets. At the home of Shazad Arshad, officers found an embossing handle used to print card numbers onto counterfeit cards, counterfeit cards were found at the homes of Ahmed Sohail Pasha, Ammar Khalid and Faraz Malik and software to write card details onto the magnetic strips of credit cards was found on a laptop in Irfan Khan’s bedroom.
Detective Sergeant Phil Larratt, of GMP’s Fraud Investigation Team, said: “This gang were involved in a concerted, full-time operation to defraud companies out of thousands of pounds worth of goods.
“It is clear from the sheer scale of the evidence we recovered that these men thought they had an unearthed a goldmine and had no intention of slowing down or stopping. I have no doubt theyd still be trying to con businesses out of thousands of pounds today had we not caught them.
“This was this gang’s full-time occupation. The group operated as a business with a clear hierarchy and structure. Ammar Khalid, Irfan Khan and Ahmed Sohail Pasha directed operations from the comfort of their own homes, accessing the dark web and placing orders using the compromised card details.
“In times of austerity, these businesses lost tens of thousands of pounds thanks to the underhand tactics of this gang and potentially could have faced financial ruin.
“However, thanks to the work and dedication of the officers from the Fraud Investigation Unit we were able to unravel their web of deception and they have now been exposed so that no other businesses can be targeted by this gang. We carried out a painstaking investigation involving meticulous examination of financial and phone records and I am delighted all that work has paid off.
“We know there may be other similar scams being operated here in Greater Manchester and across the country so I would urge anyone who thinks they may have fallen victim to contact Action Fraud (www.actionfraud.police.uk) Greater Manchester Police are determined to disrupt and prosecute the perpetrators of this type of serious and organised criminality. Anyone found guilty of committing these types of fraud, as this gang have found out to their cost, can expect a stint in prison.”
Picture, from left to right, of Mughal, Irfan Khan, Sohail Pasha and Shazad Arshad