Sentences for fraudsters caught by spelling error

An elaborate plot to defraud the banking system ended at Birmingham Crown Court yesterday with prison sentences for the scam's ringleaders. The court also ordered the seizure of a BMW car belonging to one of the gang which had been used in a car chase across Oxfordshire as the police moved in on the ring in March 1996.

Sanjeev Rana was sentenced to three years, while his accomplices, Sukjit Virk and Satwant Basi, received jail terms of 12 months each. A fourth defendant, Deepak Panwar, will serve 12 months' detention in a young offenders institution. Rajeev Rana, the owner of the BMW, is to be sentenced in January.

The scam perpetrated by the ring involved forging letters of authority from one of a bank's commercial customers, requesting the transfer of money from its account to another account at a different bank. The account information needed to set up the transfer was asked for over the telephone from the victim companies on the pretext of setting up a transfer under the banks' automated payment system.

For the scheme to work, the conspirators had to find people who were willing for their accounts to be used to receive the transferred funds. The recipient of the funds usually got to keep a percentage of the money.

Philip Lewis, a lawyer at the Serious Fraud Office, which brought the case with the West Midlands Police Fraud Squad, said: "This fraud was alarmingly simple to carry out. Had the defendants succeeded in all of their dishonest efforts the loss would have been over pounds 7m."

After his arrest Sukjit Virk told police he had become involved in the fraud because he had no money and "with Sanjeev [Rana] you go out to bars, drink champagne, get girls, live a life".

One of the stooges whose accounts were used to collect the money, Richard Culverhouse, was yesterday fined pounds 1,000 and ordered to pay pounds 1,000 in costs. He had pounds 32,000 worth of assets seized which are to paid to National Westminster Bank.

Between December 1995 and May 1996 the big clearing banks were defrauded of almost pounds 2m. They were only stopped after a simple spelling mistake repeated on each of the 131 separate letters sent by the gang linked all the attempts. The recurrent use of the mis-spelt "sincerly" when signing off the letters demonstrated all the fraudulent transactions were connected.

On 11 March 1996, Rana and Virk were arrested and charged at Wantage in Oxfordshire, where Virk had just delivered one of the forged letters of authority to a branch of Barclays Bank. The arrests followed a car chase during which they had thrown from the car various items of incriminating evidence, including a mobile phone used to phone up target companies.

The scam continued even after they were arrested and told they had been captured on video researching target companies at Companies House and delivering forged letters. Knowing this, they continued to seek information from Companies House by post while on bail and arranged for the letters to be delivered by taxi drivers.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Trade Desk Specialist (Linux, Windows, FIX, Finance, Networks)

£60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Trade Desk Specialist (Linux, Windows, FIX...

Associate CXL Consultant

£40000 - £60000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: CXL, Triple Po...

Project Manager - ETRM/CTRM

£70000 - £90000 per annum + Job Satisfaction: Harrington Starr: Project Manage...

C#.NET Developer

£300 - £350 per day: Harrington Starr: C#.NET Developer C#, WPF,BLL,MVVM, SOA...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform