CUMBRIA police are urging the public to be on guard against financial fraudsters.

The message was issued after the sentencing yesterday of three men for money laundering offences.

Bilal Afzal, Mohammad Khan and Nikhil Reedye were trapped after detectives followed the money trail leading to these criminals.

Speaking after the sentencing, Detective Constable Rebecca Fox said: “These three men did not make a great deal of money out of this scam.

“But by allowing their bank accounts to be used they allowed this to happen – and led to this woman losing a large sum of money.
“The victim in this case suffered a huge financial loss and it caused her a great deal of distress.”

Detectives have also warned anybody tempted to help others to carry out frauds they could face the consequences for life.

In another example of the unseen police work carried out every day in Cumbria, officers examined bank accounts and interrogated digital records in a bid to get justice for the woman.

The case came about when a woman, who was in her 80s, was phoned at her home in Kendal on October 5 2016.

The caller claimed to be employed by a bank, giving out a name and an identity number.

The fraudsters told the woman there had been fraudulent activity on her account and to protect her money she was advised to move cash into so-called 'safe accounts'.

The woman believed it was a genuine phone call and agreed to transfer her money.

She later realised her money had been stolen and she had been the victim of a phone scam.

The total amount stolen was £64,500.

Investigations led the officers to the bank accounts of the three men.

They were all sentenced at Carlisle Crown Court yesterday.

Afzal, 21, of View Street, Bolton, was sentenced to 10 months after admitting Money Laundering.

Khan, 28, of Trippear Way, Heywood, Greater Manchester, was sentenced to 16 months in prison after admitting Money Laundering.

Reedye, 20, of Kennedy Close, Mitcham, was sentenced 12 months in a young offenders’ institute after being found guilty of  Money Laundering.

Speaking about the issue of this type of financial fraud in general, DC Fox said scams often involved so-called 'money mules' who facilitated these crimes for other people further up the chain.

She sad: "Some of these people might be tempted by what they think is easy money and allow their bank accounts to be used.

"Often they are young people with a bright future ahead of them.

"But a criminal record can have a big impact on future employment and other opportunities, meaning they could be paying for these crimes for most of their lives.

"We'd urge anyone tempted by being involved in this type of crime to think again."

DC Fox said following the money trail involved dogged detective work, including applications to the courts to look at bank accounts and examinations of financial records.

She said: "This is the type of work the public don’t see but is crucial in catching those carrying out this type of crime, which has the potential to strike anywhere.

"The people who carry out these crimes don’t have to be based in Cumbria – they could do this from anywhere.
“So that poses an added challenge in bringing them to justice."