Two convicted in mobile phone ‘cash back’ con

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Leicester duo plead guilty after 300 victims contacted Trading Standards

TWO Leicester men who conned hundreds of people into taking out mobile phone contracts with the promise of monthly ‘cash backs’ have been sentenced for fraud.

Imran Patel, 36, and Altaf Master, 37, admitted charges of fraudulent trading, fraud by false representation and money laundering at Leicester Crown Court.

The duo, both from Leicester, transferred thousands of pounds between three of their companies leaving hundreds of customers high and dry after promises of monthly cash backs were never made.

Patel received a 51-week custodial sentence suspended for two years for his part in the scam.

He was also given 200 hours unpaid work and a six month curfew of 7am till 7pm every day.

His partner Altaf Master received an 18-month custodial sentence.

Both men were also disqualified from being directors for 10 years under the Company Directors Act 1986.

The court was told Letz Talk Ltd of Evington Road, Master Wholesalers Ltd and Ultimate Biles Ltd of Green Lane Road had promised customers money back after signing them up to mobile phone airtime agreements. Some of the cash backs offered were as much as the cost of a 12-month airtime agreement.

Police and Trading Standards were alerted in January 2008 when hundreds of Leicester consumers lost money in unpaid cash backs following the collapse of the three city businesses.

During the 18-month joint investigation by Leicestershire Constabulary and Leicester City Trading Standards, Financial Investigators discovered large sums of money being transferred between thethree companies. In a single transaction in January 2008, a money transfer for £230,000 was attempted from the UK to China. Police believe that this was an attempt to launder the proceeds of the fraud and the transfer was subsequently stopped by the police.

Trading Standards received almost 300 complaints from consumers who took out contracts but were not given their cash back. Police believe that fraud could have cost Leicester consumers and business in excess of £200,000.

Sarah Russell, Leicester City Councillor, said “This is a brilliant outcome for the victims of the fraud. Our trading standards officers, together with the Police, have put hundreds of hours of work into this investigation and I am pleased that the Court has handed down sentences to these fraudsters.

“The expert support given to us by the Police’s financial investigators has enabled the illegal profits made by the fraudsters to be identified.”

In September 2009, the controls on mobile service providers and retailers who engage in dishonest, misleading or deceptive conduct were changed, meaning that where evidence is available the firms can now be fined. The new rules also mean that the mobile phone networks can also be held responsible in some circumstances.

Senior Trading Standards Officer Ivan Thompson said: “This means that mobile phone network operators will have to be more careful about whom they do business with”.

 

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