Conmen jailed over fake sheikh scam


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The Independent Online

Conmen who pretended to be sheikhs to trick a finance company out of £1.5 million were jailed today at the Old Bailey.

They used two fake sheikhs to pose as wealthy Arab brothers Malthoum and Said Mebjar and "hijacked" a £6 million London property to secure the loan.

But Andrew Bloom, managing director of Masthaven, became suspicious and called in police.

A sting operation was arranged with undercover officers at a West End hotel.

The fraudsters were arrested when two men arrived dressed as sheikhs, the court heard.

"Both dressed in Arab gear and were posing as the Mebjars," said Jonathan Kinnear QC, prosecuting.

He said the sheikhs, who did not exist, were put forward to guarantee the loan with an expensive property.

The flat, which was on sale, was hijacked using paperwork from the Land Registry in 2010.

Mortgage broker Jonathan Flynn, 38, was found guilty of fraud and jailed for four-and-a-half years and banned from being a director of a company for seven years.

Flynn, of Woodhall Lane, Stanningley, Pudsey, West Yorks, was said by the judge to have played an important part in the fraud.

Shakil Ahmed, 36, of Bourne Terrace, Paddington, west London, pleaded guilty and was jailed for three years in his absence, having fled on bail.

Shane Martin, 51, of Hillview, Cotebrook, Tarporley, Cheshire, and Ahmed Ali, 47, of Hadfield Close, Manchester, also admitted their guilt and were each jailed for two-and-a-half years.

Detective Constable Lizzie Roberts, from City of London Police, said: "The gang used forged documents, a fake property valuation and dressed as sheikhs to try and disguise their true intentions, which was to commit a major fraud.

"But none of this was enough to overcome sound business practices and an investigation team ready to act quickly."