Two criminals behind an elaborate debt recovery scam – which defrauded victims across the country out of tens of thousands of pounds – were sentenced to more than three years in prison at Chester Crown Court today (5 July). Mohammed Ali and Samira Saddique – who are brother and sister – pleaded guilty to offences of conspiracy to defraud and fraud by false representation. Ali was sentenced to 15 months in prison, whilst his sister Saddique received a two-year prison sentence. Both have also been disqualified from holding company directorships for five years.
The pair operated a company which traded as ‘Barclays Recovery Services’, deceiving their victims into thinking that they were dealing with the Barclays banking group. Barclays Recovery Services purported to be a legitimate debt collection agency, which claimed that it could recover any debt within a specified period, normally 4-12 weeks, or provide the client with a full refund of their fees.
In practice, Ali and Saddique operated a cruel and elaborate ‘advance fee’ fraud, with no effort made to actually recover the debts owed to the consumers and businesses who engaged its services. Victims were conned out of their money and often faced further demands for payment to fund non-existent legal action.
One victim included a farmer from Lancashire who was conned out of £44,000 over an extended period, with Ali paying repeated visits to demand further cash. Another victim from Coventry was promised by Ali and Saddique that they could recover non-existent Spanish lottery winnings.
Barclays Bank took legal action to prevent their name being used by the Ali and Saddique, who continued defrauding hundreds of victims – many of whom were vulnerable – out of thousands of pounds. The pair simply changed the name of their company to Barclyde Recovery Services and continued to scam unsuspecting victims.
The investigation, which was co-ordinated by the National Trading Standards Scambuster Team (North West), employed surveillance and covert audio recording of the pair during the course of their crimes and – following their arrest by police – Ali and Saddique entered guilty pleas at Warrington Crown Court in March 2016.
Lord Toby Harris, Chair, National Trading Standards, said:
“This scheme was created with the sole purpose of deceiving and cheating consumers and small businesses out of large sums of money. I would like to congratulate all involved in bringing these criminals to justice – this sentence sends a strong signal that we will not tolerate dishonest practices and are committed to protecting consumers and businesses.
“We urge members of the public to steer clear of these scams – if you are in any doubt whatsoever then do not get involved. If you think you have identified a scam or have been a victim of such a scheme, you should report it to Action Fraud: www.actionfraud.police.uk or call 0300 123 2040.”
For more information, please call National Trading Standards on 020 7025 7570 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Notes to Editors
National Trading Standards
National Trading Standards is a group of senior and experienced local government heads of trading standards, representing all trading standards services across England and Wales. The Board has been set up by the Government as part of changes to the consumer protection landscape and an enhanced role for trading standards.
National Trading Standards provides leadership influence, support and resources to help combat consumer and business detriment locally, regionally and nationally.
National Trading Standards funds the Scambuster Teams that target rogue trading, doorstep crime and scams, providing support across England and Wales through eight regionally based teams:
Central England Trading Standards Authorities (CeNTSA)
North East Trading Standards Authorities (NETSA)
Trading Standards East Midlands (TSEM)
Trading Standards North West (TSNW)
Tri Region Scambusters (TRS), on behalf of Trading Standards South East Ltd (TSSEL), East of England Trading Standards Association (EETSA) and London Trading Standards Association (LoTSA)
Trading Standards Partnership South West (SWERCOTS)
Yorkshire and Humber Trading Standards Group (YAHTSG) and
Wales Heads of Trading Standards (WHoTS)
There are separate arrangements in place in Scotland.
For more information, please visit www.nationaltradingstandards.uk