TWO men have been jailed in Yorkshire for their part in a scam which cost meat, poultry and fish wholesalers across the country thousands of pounds.
Zulfiqar Alam and Yakub Yusuf used false names and pretended to be placing orders from legitimate companies to order products and catering equipment.
They would purchase the items over the phone and fax forged bank deposit slips which showed they had the cash in accounts to pay but the cheques presented into those accounts would bounce.
Richard Wright, prosecuting, told Leeds Crown Court that by then the goods had been released and around £200,000 worth of food and machinery were obtained from legitimate businesses who lost money as a result.
Meanwhile the meat, poultry and fish would be taken around the country and sold on to unsuspecting takeaways and restaurants. Alam, 43, of Ashford, Middlesex, was found guilty by a jury of conspiracy to defraud between September 2006 and September 2009. He was jailed for three years.
Yusuf, 58, then of Warley Drive, Bradford, who admitted conspiracy to defraud, was sent to prison for 18 months.
Judge Geoffrey Marson QC said it was “a persistent obtaining from decent companies goods for which you never intended to pay. It had an element of sophistication in that false identification was used, closed accounts were used to issue cheques and a number of different premises were rented.”
He said to ensure they obtained as much as they could from those “hapless companies” they submitted orders in quick succession before the dishonesty was detected.
The court heard that Yusuf had recently completed a four-and- a-half-year sentence imposed in 2009 for breaches of food safety laws arising from the same arrest and Judge Marson said that because of that he had taken the totality into account when sentencing him.
A third defendant, Abdul Shakoor Yaqoob, 35 of Broomer Street, Dewsbury, who also admitted conspiracy was given a 12-month community order with 200 hours of unpaid work.
Mr Wright said one of the companies contacted about an order by an “Eddie” from Dewsbury discovered that the fraud was being planned and informed the police who were waiting when Yaqoob was one of two drivers who turned up. Yusuf’s number was in his mobile phone.
Premises used in the scam included addresses in Batley, Dewsbury and Ossett.
After the case, PC Liz Pharaoh, who was commended by the judge for her work on the case, said: “My sympathies lie with the many companies who have lost a great deal of money over the years and as a result the jobs of honest hard working people have been lost or put in jeopardy.”