Thursday, May 07, 2015

'Bank of terror' gang accused of cold-calling scam that rinsed pensioners' accounts to fund jihadis' journeys to Syria to fight with Isis extremists

  • Five men stand accused of carrying out a £160,000 'phishing-type' fraud
  • Police say proceeds were used for would-be jihadis' travel to Iraq and Syria
  • It's alleged they targeted the elderly to convince them to withdraw cash
  • Court heard they targeted eight victims from January 2014 - May 2015
Five men accused of running a 'bank of terror' by conning old pensioners out of £160,000, and using the money to fund would-be jihadis travelling to Iraq and Syria, have appeared in court.

The British-based gang posed as policemen to scam elderly and vulnerable people as old as 94 in Kent, Bedfordshire and Cornwall, Westminster Magistrates' Court heard. 

The men allegedly targeted eight victims and defrauded them out of hundreds of thousands between February 2014 and May 2015.

Proceeds from the scam were then used to fund UK extremists heading to Iraq and Syria so they could fight alongside Islamic State militants, according to the Financial Investigation Unit.

Makhzumi Abukar, 23, Sakaria Aden, 21, Mohamed Dahir, 22, Yasser Abukar, 23, and Ibrahim Anderson, 38, are all charged with conspiracy to defraud.

They were arrested as part of an investigation into a wide-scale conspiracy to commit a 'phishing-type' fraud and associated money laundering, the court heard.

They are accused of calling 'elderly, vulnerable' victims posing as police officers investigating a financial crime.

Once their victims were on the phone, they pretended to hang up and used a device to keep the line open while the victim redialled 999, it is claimed.

Instead of connecting to a police operator the victim unwittingly handed over personal information to a co-conspirator.

The money was either transferred into the gang's own accounts or the victim was persuaded to withdraw and hand over cash to a courier that would be then taken to a police station as 'evidence'. 
One 73-year-old had a staggering £130,000 drained from her accounts by the fraudsters, three of whom were students. 

Prosecutor Edward Aydin told the court the men ran the 'bank of terror', adding: 'Terrorism overall takes a new form in 2015, it's not on the battlefield. 

'This fraud, this financing terrorism, is on an industrial scale. It is sophisticated, it is a criminal network. This is a threat to the national security of this country.

'These people before you, they are the bank of terror. 

They are not small fry, they are deadly and dangerous.' 

Terrorism overall takes a new form in 2015, it's not on the battlefield... This fraud, this financing terrorism, is on an industrial scale... It is sophisticated, it is a criminal network. This is a threat to the national security of this country
Prosecutor Edward Aydin 
They were rounded up by counter-terrorism police during a series of raids across London and the South East yesterday.

A total of six men and a woman were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit fraud and five of the men were in custody at Westminster Magistrates' today. 

The sixth man, Mohammed Sharif Abokar, 27, from Islington, was charged with the same offence and was due in to appear at Dunstable Magistrates Court.

Mr Aydin said: 'We say these funds are then used to help those UK nominally to travel to Syria and Iraq fight for the Islamic State... These funds are used to buy weapons and bullets.' 

Meanwhile, a 32-year-old woman arrested yesterday morning on suspicion of money laundering has been bailed.

Police said a 46-year-old woman was arrested at one of the addresses in north London on suspicion of an offence under section 2 of the Child Abduction Act 1984.

She was arrested in connection with an unrelated investigation over a young girl believed to have travelled to Turkey and has been bailed. 

They are due to appear again at the Old Bailey on May 21st.

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