FOUR members of a South Yorkshire gang who defrauded mobile phone giant Vodafone out of £2.8 million by hijacking the accounts of genuine customers have been sentenced to a total of more than 11 years in prison.
Kaleen Hussain, Waseem Rashid, Imran Rasab and Nadeem Ali, from Rotherham and Mexborough, were jailed yesterday during a hearing at Blackfriars Crown Court in London.
Rashid, Rasab and Ali were found guilty of conspiracy to defraud last Thursday at the same court. Hussain had previously pleaded guilty to the same charge.
The fraudsters were able to assign the phone numbers of the company’s customers to a SIM card in their possession by calling up and posing as the account holder. They then used the SIM cards to repeatedly call premium rate lines they had purchased, which typically had connection charges of around £2.50 per call.
Vodafone would pay those premium rate lines for the calls before billing the genuine customer, whose only knowledge of the fraud would be that their own phone had ceased to operate.
The men were brought to trial after a four-year investigation by South Yorkshire Police.
Hussain, 30, of Maynard Road, Rotherham, was sentenced to 38 months in prison, while Rashid, 27, of Old Clifton Lane, Rotherham, was sentenced to 30 months’ imprisonment.
Rashid gave his own details when obtaining a SIM card from a mobile phone shop and provided the details of another person to obtain a SIM which was later linked to 47 hijacks.
Imran Rasab, 35, of Hooton Road, Mexborough, who was sentenced to four years, was behind a company which purchased thousands of mobile phone customer details from marketing companies, while Nadeem Ali, 26, of Clifton Lane, Rotherham, was given a 21-month jail term by the judge.
Detective Constable Mark Wootton of South Yorkshire Police said efforts would be made to recover the gang’s assets.
He said: “This was a complex and lengthy investigation into a highly-organised and effective conspiracy, which involved hijacking the accounts of mobile phone customers and using those accounts to defraud mobile phone companies.
“Some victims of this fraud received phone bills in excess of £80,000, after the group used their accounts to repeatedly call international premium rates lines and foreign destinations.”