EIGHT men were sentenced on Monday, February 11 at Worcester Crown Court to more than 21 years for their roles in a nationwide telephone and courier fraud scam.
It follows seven men pleading guilty for their roles in the fraud and a further man being found guilty by a jury following a 12 day trial.
The fraud offences took place between April and June 2016 across Worcestershire, Warwickshire, Cumbria, West Midlands, Avon and Somerset, Gloucestershire and Thames Valley, when 50 victims, ranging from 49 to 96 years-old, were called on their landline telephone numbers and asked to hand over money.
It was a persuasive scam that saw offenders purporting to be police officers investigating a fraud at a local bank branch.
Of the 50 victims targeted, 15 were persuaded to hand over money, with a total of more than £200,000 being stolen.
Two couriers were arrested in Ludlow on June 1, 2016 after police were led to believe offences were occurring in the town that day.
Following their arrest a complex investigation began, which led to the subsequent arrests.
Seven of the defendants pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation and an eighth was found guilty of the charge by the jury.
Mohammed Hadi, 34, of Uamvar Street, London and Rejwanul Islam, 26, of Wroxhall Road, Dagenham were jailed for six years.
Mohammed Abdul Kashem, 28, of Guilfoot, Camden got four years in jail.
Mohammed Nawaz Miah, 22, of Parkers Circus, Chipping Norton, who also pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice and possession of a false identity document, was jailed for three years.
Mohammed Nazeem Miah, 20, of Parkers Circus, Chipping Norton, was jailed for 30 months.
Idris Ali, 24, of Belmont Street, Oldham, got 16 months, suspended for two years, and was ordered to do 300 hours of unpaid work.
Yarsir Afzal, 22, of Abingdon Road, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, was jailed for 12 months suspended for two years and ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work.
Mohammed Nasir Miah, 24, of Parkers Circus, Chipping Norton, who had pleaded not guilty, was jailed for 18 months suspended for two years. He was also ordered to complete 20 days rehabilitative activity and will be subject to a home detention curfew for six months.
Detective Inspector Emma Wright from the Economic Crime Unit at West Mercia Police said: “This investigation was incredibly complex and involved an organised crime group from London, Manchester, Oxfordshire and Cardiff.
The investigation involved working with a number of other forces, in particular, Cumbria police, who were dealing with a linked series of offences.
“These offences fall under the West Mercia Police initiative Project Prospero, aimed at tackling telephone and courier fraud.
“All the victims involved were called by people pretending to be officials such as the police, and were persuaded into handing over or transferring large sums of money.
“These defendants targeted people who were elderly or vulnerable; they were persistent and ruthless, sometimes keeping the victims on the phone for hours or subjecting them to many calls.
“We urge people to be on their guard against this fraud – never hand over bank cards, cash or transfer money, following an unsolicited phone call purporting to be the police or your bank.”