Jeremy Corbyn helped secure bail for conman stealing £1million from elderly to FUND ISIS
JEREMY Corbyn sent an extraordinary letter to a court urging them to grant bail to a man suspected of conning cash from the elderly to fund Islamic State terrorists.
PA/GETTY Jeremy Corbyn wrote a letter on behalf of conman Mohamed Dahir, left
The Labour leader penned the letter in May calling on magistrates to grant bail to 23-year-old Mohamed Dahir as he had “roots in the area” and was unlikely to abscond.
Beleaguered Mr Corbyn, who has been rocked by a series of controversies since becoming party leader, intervened on behalf of Dahir who comes from his Islington North constituency.
During that hearing the court was told that Dahir was part of a gang using elderly people’s cash as a “bank of terror” to pay for would-be jihadists to travel from the UK to fight alongside Islamic State terrorists in Syria and Iraq.
Magistrates granted bail to Dahir and he was able to walk out of court pending the trial.
However, Dahir has now been convicted of posing as a police officer to steal more than £600,000 from elderly people with an average age of 83 as part a £1million phone scam.
One of the victims of the scam was a 94-year-old man from north west London who handed over his life savings of £130,000 and a 91-year-old man who handed over his £8,000 nest-egg.
The allegations that the money was used to fund terrorism was not heard by the jury and no terrorism charges were brought, although Scotland Yard said in a statement to Express.co.uk: “We uncovered this fraud after a separate terrorist investigation found suspicious payments into a bank account of an individual who is now believed to have travelled to Syria.”
Dahir's barrister Patrick Harte again presented Mr Corbyn's letter to the Old Bailey, applying for bail pending sentencing, saying: “He (Dahir) understands the need to be here. He has been here on every occasion.”
However, this time the letter proved unsuccessful and Dahir remanded in custody when he appeared before Judge Anuja Dhir QC who said there was a risk he may abscond due to his conviction.
PA Dahir was a member of a gang of fraudsters who have been convicted
Can you imagine your alarm on receiving a phone call like that?
Prosecutor Kevin Dent
Dahir was one of three swindlers who preyed on the “frailty, vulnerability and isolation” of elderly victims to con them out of their life savings.
The court was told that the trio would call up their victims, who had an average age of 83, and spin a web of lies whilst posing as police officers.
Along with Yasser Abukar, 23, and 21-year-old Sakaria Aden, Dahir convinced pensioners as old as 96 to transfer money out of their accounts by telling them they were about to lose it.
The gang called up victims across the country in their 70s, 80s and 90s and said they were police officers investigating fraud at their banks.
They then advised them to transfer money out of their accounts for “safekeeping”, but in reality it was going straight into the conmen’s coffers.
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The judge was told how the gang made up elaborate stories to bamboozle their victims, such as telling them fake police officers had someone in custody who was caught attempting to use a cloned card in a high street store such as Argos.
Prosecutor Kevin Dent told the jury: “Can you imagine your alarm on receiving a phone call like that from somebody purporting to be a police officer, saying there is fraud going on in your bank account?
“If you can imagine the alarm you might have, then think about the amount of alarm and distress to somebody considerably older than yourselves, perhaps less robust.”
The court heard that victim William Gooding, who is in his 70s, was conned out of £9,000 after receiving a phone call from a “PC Hopkins” based in Hammersmith, west London.
The fraudster on the end of the line told him his grandson was in custody and to transfer £9,000 into a different account, but fortunately eagle-eyed staff at his bank branch in Barnstaple, Devon, became suspicious and blocked the payment.
Another victim, 70-year-old Michael Garrett from Weymouth in Dorset, was conned out of £113,000 by a fraudster posing as “DC Adams” from Hammersmith Police Station.
He was told that his life savings were at risk from an “inside job” at his bank and was instructed to transfer all his cash into 11 separate accounts operated by the gang.
The court was told the group had even devised a “clever, but simple” trick to fool their more suspecting marks.
If any of the victims questioned their authenticity they would suggest they call 999 or their bank to confirm the details, but would remain on the line when they hung up and then pose as call operators.
The court heard that another member of the gang who received money from the scam, 28-year-old Mohammed Sharif Abokar, blew thousands of pounds of their ill-gotten gains at the Hippodrome Casino in central London.
Abukar, Aden, and Dahir were found guilty of converting criminal property, while Abokar was convicted of money laundering.
Aden, of Stoke Newington; Dahir, of Finsbury Park, north London, Abukar of Holloway, north London, had denied conspiracy to commit fraud between 1 May 2012 and 7 May 2015. All three will be sentenced in the New Year.
Another ringleader, 23-year-old Makhzumi Abukar, has already admitted his part in the scam after being caught red-handed with cash taken from one of the victims.
Ibrahim Farah, 23, of north London, was cleared of conspiracy to defraud.
The group was involved in what was described as an "industrial-scale" conspiracy to commit fraud by targeting elderly and vulnerable adults in courier fraud-style scams with around 140 offences identified by police, and over £1 million defrauded or attempted to be defrauded from their victims.
Speaking after the gang was convicted, Commander Richard Walton, head of the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command (SO15) said: "This callous group of criminals stole vast sums of money from extremely vulnerable and elderly people from across the country.
"Their despicable actions have had a terrible and devastating impact on their victims with some losing their life savings.
"The targeting of vulnerable men and women in their 80s and 90s is quite simply beyond belief.
"This was a scam on a huge national scale detected by specialist financial investigators who have stopped the targeting of even more victims.
"Our investigation remains on-going and we will continue to arrest and prosecute anyone involved in this fraud.
Responding to the furore Mr Corbyn's spokesman said: "Jeremy Corbyn condemns the actions of his constituent as appalling acts against vulnerable people and wholly unacceptable."
It is understood Mr Corbyn was approached by Dahir prior to the trial and wrote a letter on his behalf as his MP before the full facts of the case had emerged.