A member of a bank anti-fraud team has been jailed after selling customer card details to a gang of con artists operating across the country.
Bilal Abbas, 30, was today jailed for two years for his part in a sophisticated scam that saw fraudsters pocket more than £90,000 in cash and purchased goods.
A court was told how Abbas used his position in Santander’s anti-fraud team to secure the card details of customers while verifying their account details.
He would then sell that information to his associate Umair Memon, 28, who would use it to purchase high value goods by telephone under a fake name.
A third man, Jordan Hamilton-Thomas, 32, would then attend the stores in person, posing as Memon’s son to collect the goods.
Days later the transactions would be identified as fraudulent by the bank and cancelled, leaving those businesses targeted out of pocket.
Newcastle Crown Court was told how the men used the details of 21 customers to target 13 different businesses across the country over a 14-month period.
But in April 2018 police became aware of their scam after a jewellers in the Metrocentre contacted officers to report suspicious activity.
The business was concerned after Hamilton-Thomas visited their store three days in a row to purchase Rolex watches worth more than £14,000.
Officers arrived at the scene while the fraudster was waiting to collect the goods but he assaulted an officer and was able to flee the scene.
However, Memon had also attended the shopping centre and was arrested nearby after CCTV identified him as an associate of Hamilton-Thomas.
Enquiries eventually uncovered the huge fraud and Abbas was identified as being the only Santander employee to have had access to the details of each victim.
Searches at their homes in Bradford later led to the recovery of a haul of goods purchased using stolen card details. Hamilton-Thomas was identified as the third offender and was also arrested.
Pictures were also seized from Memon’s phone that showed he and Hamilton-Thomas enjoying extravagant holidays, going on shopping sprees and even pouring champagne over Rolex watches.
But now they have swapped a five-star hotel room for the four walls of a prison cell after they were each jailed for two years at Newcastle Crown Court on Tuesday.
Following the case, Detective Constable Patrick Naughten welcomed the custodial sentence and said it sent a strong message to suspected fraudsters.
DC Naughten, of Northumbria Police, said: “This was a large-scale scam that has left businesses in our region, and across the country, thousands of pounds out of pocket.
“Bilal Abbas in particular has been in a position of trust and he has abused that position to target those customers whose details he was employed to protect.
“There is a degree of sophistication to the scam but once we began to uncover the frauds it was clear that Abbas was leaking confidential information.
“From there we followed the trail of breadcrumbs and found a haul of incriminating evidence in the homes of the offenders.
“It became clear they had been living the high life at the expense of their victims and showed no remorse for those businesses they had left out of pocket.
“I am delighted that they are now behind bars and will face the consequences of their actions. The only thing waiting for fraudsters at the end of a scam will be a police cell.”
Following the sentencing, a Santander spokesperson said: “Santander actively assisted the police with their investigation and we are pleased to see the perpetrators brought to justice.”
The court was told the offences took place between October 2017 and December 2018 with the value of purchases using stolen bank details totalling more than £90,000.
Businesses were targeted across the entire country with locations including Gateshead, Newcastle, Yorkshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Surrey and London.
Abbas, of Park Lane, Keighley, West Yorkshire, and Memon, of Briarwood, Shipley, West Yorkshire, both admitted conspiracy to commit fraud and were jailed for two years.
Hamilton-Thomas, of Thirlmere Drive, West Ardsley, Leeds, admitted conspiracy to commit fraud and assault with intent to resist arrest. He was jailed for two years and two months.
Memon was also jailed for a further three months for unrelated driving offences.
The investigation was supported by fraud experts at the North East Regional Special Operations Unit (NERSOU) who helped co-ordinate enquiries across the country.