Eight criminals who pretended to be police officers, conning elderly and vulnerable victims out of thousands of pounds, have been jailed for more than 30 years.
They targeted 25 victims across the country, including eight people who lived in Lincolnshire. The total amount of money lost by victims nationally was £242,000, and around £40,000 by victims in Lincolnshire.
The offences took place between 23 July 2014 and 15 September 2015, and the investigation was conducted jointly by Lincolnshire Police and West Yorkshire Regional Organised Crime Unit.
The men were sentenced on Tuesday (September 4) at Leeds Crown Court.
Jemima Cholmondeley-Smith, Financial Investigator at Lincolnshire Police, said: “The offenders were all part of an organised crime group based primarily in London.
“They targeted the elderly and vulnerable by telephone, pretending to be police officers and convincing the victim that their bank accounts had been compromised.
“In some cases they convinced the victim to move funds to a ‘safe account’, which in reality was an account belonging to one of the offenders.
“In other cases they convinced victims to take cash out of their bank account and hand it to a courier who was also part of the conspiracy who was sent up to meet them.
“By pretending to be police officers the offenders caused victims to understandably be cautious and distrusting of anyone contacting them claiming to be from law enforcement.
“Victims said they felt embarrassed and were reluctant to speak to anyone about what had happened, let alone report it to the police.
“We would urge anyone who believes they have been the victim of a similar fraud to come forward and report it. You are not alone, we take reports of this nature extremely seriously, and we will always do everything within our power to bring perpetrators of these despicable offences to justice.”
His Honour Judge Rodney Jameson said of the offenders: "Your aim was to target the elderly and the vulnerable. You have not just stolen their money but their self-respect and independence."
Mohammed Hadi, 34, of Uamvar Street, London was found guilty of conspiracy to defraud and acquiring criminal property. He was sentenced to eight years;
Mohammed Naahe, 50, of Jodrell Road, London admitted conspiracy to defraud, acquiring criminal property, entering into a money laundering arrangement and possession of an article to be used in fraud. He was sentenced to seven years, two months;
Shahidur Ali, 24, of Byng Street, London pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud and was sentenced to six and a half years;
Mahbub Aziz, 24 of Walden Street, London, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud and was sentenced to two-and-a-half years;
Shah Abdal, 46, of White Horse Road, London, was found guilty of acquiring criminal property and was sentenced to two-and-a-half years;
Mohammed Haque, 43, of an address off Longlands Road in Sidcup, was found guilty of acquiring criminal property and was sentenced to two years, three months;
Mohammed Noor, 23, of Crowndale Road, London, admitted conspiracy to defraud and was sentenced to 21 months;
Syed Ahmed, 35, of Oban Street, Tower Hamlets, admitted acquiring criminal property and was sentenced to nine months;
Ismail Hoque, 21, of Osbourne Street, Oldham, admitted acquiring criminal property and was sentenced to eight months suspended for 12 months, with 16 hours unpaid community work.