Zimbos jailed 18 yrs for UK cheque fraud

via Zimbos jailed 18 yrs for UK cheque fraud 09/10/2014

THE “ruthless” Zimbabwean ringleaders of one of the UK’s largest ever cheque fraud gangs were, Thursday, sent to prison for a total of 18 years at Bradford Crown Court.

The sentence follows a nationwide police operation by the UK’s Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit (DCPCU) during which £6.5 million worth of stolen and fake cheques were seized.

Onais Hove, 43 of Barnsley, and Charles Nyongo, 43 of Hunslet, Leeds, led an organised criminal gang responsible for stealing and fraudulently manufacturing bank cheques.

The DCPCU said Nyongo and Hove had considerable knowledge of the bank cheque system adding they were “ruthlessly indiscriminate in selecting their victims”.

The sophisticated gang intercepted completed cheques in the post, which they then altered, or photographed blank ones using smartphones to capture the legitimate details which they used to create fake cheques.

Originating in Scotland, the group’s criminality spread throughout the country to London. The gang’s victims were widespread, but included hospices, schools, golf clubs and the elderly.

The stolen or fake cheques would be cashed through ‘mule’ bank accounts – third party accounts which were usually held by students or more vulnerable members of society.

The DCPCU investigation, which began in April 2012, included officers from eight police forces across the country carrying out a number of coordinated raids.

During the property searches, officers seized almost 3000 stolen or fake cheques, the most ever recorded by the banking industry, along with the specialist ink and paper used in their manufacture.

Police also uncovered computers with cheque templates and ready-made identity kits for ‘mules’ to open false bank accounts. The recovered cheques had a total value of over £6.5 million.

“We have dismantled a highly organised and professional fraud gang – one of the largest of its kind ever seen in the UK.

“As the ringleaders, Hove and Nyongo were ruthlessly indiscriminate in selecting their victims. Their knowledge of the bank cheque system was considerable, and our investigation revealed a series of fraud factories across the country.

“We are delighted to have brought these criminals to justice and to have removed the threat they posed to British banks and their customers,” said DCI Perry Stokes, Head of the DCPCU.

Both Hove and Nyongo received sentences of nine years each.

The DCPCU is pro-active police unit sponsored by the banking industry and is made up of officers from the City of London Police and the Metropolitan Police Service.