Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

'Mr Bigs' Hunted as Fraud Ring Is Smashed; Conmen Swindled Thousands from Tyneside Families

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

'Mr Bigs' Hunted as Fraud Ring Is Smashed; Conmen Swindled Thousands from Tyneside Families

Article excerpt

Byline: ANDY HUGHES

THIS scheming gang are the foot soldiers of a major bank fraud operating on Tyneside.

The conmen took thousands of pounds from hard-working families using stolen cheque books and bogus documents.

But the men are today back on the streets after they were spared jail by a judge - and the Mr Bigs behind the "highly sophisticated" scam are still at large.

The cocky group smiled in the dock as prosecutors told how their "complex and detailed" scam left police searching for how they carried out the swindle.

Geoff Mason, prosecuting, said: "It's like a jigsaw puzzle, but with some pieces missing."

Newcastle Crown Court heard cheque books of genuine Lloyds Bank account holders were ordered legitimately, but without the knowledge of the account holder.

Mr Mason said the cheque books were intercepted before the parcels arrived at the account holders' addresses.

He said: "Somehow they managed to order the cheque books so that they were sent out legitimately by Lloyds, and then intercept them later without the account holder knowing anything, but we don't know exactly how they did this.

"I don't wish to comment too much on this, but I think there should be an investigation into what's going on at Lloyds Bank. The same can be said for Royal Mail."

Documents were then transported from Essex up to the North East by Weillington Ndlovu and passed on to four Tyneside-based criminals - Christopher Robertson, 26, Anthony Rutherford, 23, Sardar Abiet, 33, and Jordan Tote, 18.

The quartet hired legitimate Lloyds account holders, known as "mules", so they could use their accounts to pay in countless cheques worth pounds 1,000 each.

As soon as the money was paid into the account of the mule, an unknown person would immediately withdraw pounds 300 - the maximum daily limit - from a cashpoint. …

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