Two bankers and accountant have been jailed for defrauding elderly bank customers of more than £390,000 and laundering the cash through multiple fake bank accounts in the UK.
Taminder Virdi, 33, was found guilty of fraud following a six-week trial at Blackfriars Crown Court in London and was sentenced last week to three years and six months behind bars.
His co-worker, Abubakar Salim, 36, was jailed for four years. The duo, who both worked at the same TSB branch in Stoke Newington in 2014, transferred funds out of customer accounts into 65 fraudulent beneficiary accounts they had opened.
These accounts were controlled by accountant Babar Hussain, 40, who had pleaded guilty to all the offences before the start of trial and was jailed last Friday for five years and four months.
“Hussain is a professional money launderer who used his accountancy knowledge to steal hundreds of thousands of pounds from elderly banking customers,” said Mike Hulett, Head of Operations at the National Crime Agency’s National Cyber Crime Unit, which led the investigations.
“He was aided by two corrupt bank workers who abused their positions of trust, using false documents to set up bank accounts to launder the hard-earned savings of their unsuspecting victims,” he said.
Officers from the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) were alerted to their activity when one of the eight victims, all of whom were in their 70s, reported that £56,000 had been transferred out of their bank account without consent. That money was then deposited into seven beneficiary accounts opened in different names.
Hulett said: “As soon as the first victim reported the theft we used our specialist cyber capabilities to follow the money and established the real world identities of these criminals.
“We are committed to working with partners to target professional enablers involved in cyber crime.”
Hussain was arrested in July 2016 and officers recovered a number of fraudulently obtained genuine driving licenses, which Virdi and Salim used along with fake gas and electric bills to open up the beneficiary accounts.
When he was interviewed, Hussain claimed that part of his work in the community involved opening and managing bank accounts for those just arriving in the UK with no fixed address.
Messages stored on Hussain’s mobile phone identified other victims of fraud, where Virdi and Salim abused their position within the bank to access their accounts and transfer money into beneficiary accounts.
Virdi was arrested in November 2016 and Salim in May 2017. At the time of Virdi’s arrest, he had left TSB having resigned following an internal investigation into his fraudulent activities and was working for Santander bank.
NCA investigations found that Virdi continued offending whist employed at Santander. He was immediately suspended following his arrest and Santander went on to support the NCA’s investigation.
Salim was also subject to an internal investigation at TSB and dismissed. Following the internal investigations, TSB formally reported the incidents to the police.
All three accused were charged with fraud by abuse of position and money laundering, with the case concluding in their sentencing this week. All the customers who lost money at the hands of the fraudsters have been fully reimbursed by the banks.