Car dealership fraudsters jailed

A gang of fraudsters used stolen identities to set up a fake car dealership scam that netted the criminals almost £500,000.

The seven-strong gang, led by Shahid Mohammad, created a bogus recruitment firm to steal the identities, which were then used as ‘Directors’ of fake car dealerships.

The fraudsters then used addresses of vacant premises across the Midlands as the locations of those non-existent companies.

The personal information stolen through the recruitment firm was used to record made-up vehicle sales and complete car finance agreements with lenders.

Once the lenders paid out on the non-existent cars, the money was transferred through several bank accounts and withdrawn in cash.

A joint investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), Derbyshire Police and West Midlands Police revealed the gang used 91 different stolen identities to submit claims between January 2015 and November 2016, pocketing £390,980.

The fraudsters also used these fake firms to submit fraudulent VAT repayments totalling £80,716.

As a spokesman for HMRC’s investigation said, Shahid Mohammad and his criminal gang caused utter misery for dozens of innocent people whose stolen details were used in this fraud.

He added that a huge amount of effort and planning went into committing these offences, which stole much-needed money from public services.

Shahid Mohammad, who, like five of his gang, pleaded not guilty when the trial started in January this year, was jailed for six years.

The other five were all handed suspended jail sentences. The remaining gang member, Nathon Downes, pleaded guilty in March 2022 and will be sentenced on May 20.

Roger Isaacs, Forensic Partner at Milsted Langdon, said: “This case involved careful forensic accounting work conducted by HMRC’s investigators and the police, thanks to which the scale of this fraud became clear.

“This case highlights the need to scrutinise ID documentation and to ensure that organisations are confident that they know who their customers are.

“In these days of Zoom and Teams meetings, client ID fraud is becoming increasingly common as there are fewer and fewer face-to-face meetings.”

Sources: HMRC

Posted in The Forensic Blog.