A gang which conned pensioners out of their life savings and sent some of the money to Syria where it is feared to have been used to fund Isis have been jailed. Some pensioners were conned out of as much as £130,000 by the gang, which used a scam known as "vishing" to persuade them to transfer money from their own accounts to ones controlled by the group.
Police believe the gang raked in as much as £1m from 18 victims across southern England who had an average age of 83, the oldest being 94. The scam was committed between May 2014 and May 2015, when the Met's Counter Terrorism Command (SO15), involved in a separate investigation into suspicious payments into the account of a man suspected to be in Syria, led them to the group.
The scam was relatively simple. Posing as police, the gang cold-called mainly elderly people and said their bank had been affected by fraud. They were "advised" to transfer the money to accounts used by the gang. The pensioners were advised to call 999 and speak to police - but the gang remained on the line using a special gadget and then posed as these police officers too.
During the men's trials, it emerged Labour leader and Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn had written a letter requesting that ringleader Mohammed Sharif Abokar be granted bail as he had strong links to Islington and was unlikely to flee. However the judge refused the request.
At the Old Bailey judge Anuja Dhir said none of the men had shown any remorse for committing crimes which had a "devastating and lasting impact" on victims. Makzhumi Abukar was jailed for seven years and four months, Sakaria Aden for six-and-a-half years and Fahim Islam six years and three months. Yasser Abukar received six years, Ahmed Ahmed four years and two months, Mohamed Dahir 21 months, former X Factor contestant Nathan Fagan-Gayle 20 months and Anrul Islam for 16 months.
Commander Dean Haydon, head of the Met Counter Terrorism Command, said: "I'm pleased with the sentences handed down to the group today. They callously and systematically defrauded elderly people of their life-savings. Had we not arrested them and put them before the courts, the group may have gone on to defraud many more victims across the UK."