A PHONE fraudster who sent stolen mobiles to tech giant Apple for free warranty replacements has been jailed.

Detectives at the Met Police's National Mobile Phone Crime Unit and HMRC launched an investigation into Ulverston businessman Jozsef Poor back in 2014.

The investigation was sparked by a complaint from mobile phone giant Apple about a large number of iPhones being returned for warranty claims.

Detectives discovered that blocked iPhones, which had previously been reported as lost or stolen, were being submitted to Apple in order to obtain replacement handsets, effectively laundering the phones.

Police seized three parcels – all containing iPhones - which were due to be sent out of the country under a false name.

On April 2 2014, a search warrant was executed at Poor’s address in Ealing Common in London.

Officers seized 102 phones, 80 of which had been blocked as they had been registered as lost or stolen. Poor’s phone and computers were also seized along with a CS gas canister and £177,570 in cash.

After he was arrested Poor told police he held a spreadsheet on his computer documenting over 4,000 handsets he had bought and sold over the last few years.

A check of the National Mobile Phone Register (NMPR), of the handsets listed on the spreadsheet established that around 12 per cent were blocked as lost or stolen.

Detectives established that Poor’s turnover was in the region of £1.5 million between 2011 and 2014. Some of this came from Poor’s legitimate mobile phone recycling business but he had paid little or no tax on the turnover.

Yesterday at Southwark Crown Court he was jailed for 30 months after being found guilty of cheating the public revenue, dishonest evasion of tax, converting criminal property, concealing criminal property, possession of criminal property and possession of an offensive weapon.

Tim Clarke, assistant director of HMRC's Fraud Investigation Service, said: "Poor sold stolen phones, hid his profits and cheated the public purse.

"He took money that should been used to fund our vital public services and provided an outlet for others to benefit as a result of their criminal acts."