A call centre worker has been jailed for two-and-a-half years after he used a professor’s security details to transfer almost £152,000 from his NatWest bank account.
Juned Ali had only been working at the call centre in Bradford for about 10 months before he got involved in the crime which resulted in the money being moved into the accounts of 40 people, including two from Leeds.
Bradford Crown Court heard that the professor had inadvertently given his password and PIN details to Ali during a telephone banking call in June 2008 and over a few weeks in August and September of that year the money was removed from his account.
Prosecutor Denise Breen-Lawton described how Ali made a series of calls purporting to be the professor and was able to transfer money by using the security details.
When the professor opened a bank statement in September 2008 he was shocked to find a number of transactions that he had not undertaken or authorised.
Ali, now aged 26, of Coppy Close, Cottingley, Bradford, admitted a charge of conspiracy to defraud after he was linked to the transfers by mobile phone records and the work of a voice recognition expert.
The court heard that Ali, who was not arrested until February 2010, was struggling financially after jointly buying a house with his brother.
In his basis of plea to the charge Ali claimed to have been recruited by a third party he was not prepared to name and was given £2,000 for the information and assistance.
But Miss Breen-Lawton submitted that Ali had a high level of control and must have received more than £2,000.
“The prosecution say that Juned Ali was the instigator and organiser behind this fraud,’’ she said.
“His position of trust within the bank as an employee afforded him the opportunity, knowledge and information to effect the fraud and involve others to ensure there were third party accounts in which to place the stolen funds.’’
Miss Breen-Lawton said the other four defendants in the dock with Ali, who included 26-year-old Tendai Charinga, of Holborn Towers, Woodhouse, and 25-year-old Sikhumbuzo Mlalazi, of Holdforth Place, Leeds, had allowed their bank accounts to be used to receive some of the fraudulently obtained money.
Charinga, who hopes to become a nurse, admitted a charge of theft and was sentenced to a 12-month community order with a requirement to do 150 hours unpaid work for the community.
She had received £3,520.00 from the professor’s account and said she had handed most of the money over to some men in Leeds.
Her barrister Michael Collins had urged Recorder Mark Bury to consider a conditional discharge because it would less damaging to her employment prospects.
Mlalazi, who has just finished his degree, also admitted a theft charge.
Because he pleaded guilty earlier he has to do 120 hours unpaid work as part of his 12-month community order.
Just over £2,000 had been transferred into his bank account.
Mlalazi said another man had asked to use his account for the money.
Larissa Dyson, 21, of Ash Street, Cleckheaton, admitted the conspiracy charge and received the same sentence as Charinga.
Ben Stokes, 23, from Bolton, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and was sentenced to a 12-month community order with 120 hours unpaid work.
Recorder Bury told Ali, who is now married with a baby son, that the credibility of the banking system depended on the utmost honesty and probity of its staff.
“This offence of conspiracy is an extremely serious matter that can only be dealt with by way of a significant custodial sentence,’’ he told Ali.