'Designer suit' postman plundered £20m in record chequebook fraud

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The Independent Online

A postman with a penchant for Savile Row suits and £1,000 designer shoes has admitted to masterminding the biggest chequebook fraud in British history.

Dido Mayue-Belezika was the ringleader of a gang of 220 people who stole £20m from across the country, including £5m from residents of Golders Green in north London. He intercepted every chequebook he could find in his sorting office. His brother-in-law sent them to money launderers across Britain who would plunder up to £1,200 a time from unsuspecting account holders.

While Mayue-Belezika, 34, carried out his postal rounds in a second-hand Fiat Punto, when he came off duty he would cruise around in his Mercedes Jeep. He swapped his modest uniform for £1,200 engraved Berluti shoes and Ozwald Boateng suits.

Details were given in Harrow Crown Court yesterday of his "lavish" local authority home. As the value of one of his pairs of shoes, with his initials engraved in the soles, was disclosed, judge Ronald Moss said: "What... £1,400 for a pair of shoes."

Mayue-Belezika, an asylum-seeker from the Congo,was arrested in April as part of Operation Bangor.

Case officer Detective Inspector Murray Duffin told the court: "We got 220 suspects and stopped counting. We just took the top 40 suspects and went after them, people who sold the cheques on to someone else and the people who write cheques out to false bank accounts."

By June last year, hundreds of people in Golders Green were reporting £1,200 a time being withdrawn from their accounts with chequebooks stolen from the post.

On 26 April this year, 500 officers - 400 in the capital alone - staged a series of raids across the country.

Dozens of people were arrested, luxury cars seized and enough upmarket goods to open a shop were taken into police custody. Of the 24 charged, only one was cleared by a jury. The rest variously admitted conspiring to defraud, concealing criminal property, forgery, using false instruments and handling stolen goods.

Mayue-Belezika, a married father-of-four from Camden, north London, has admitted 12 counts of theft between April 2004 and April this year relating to the chequebook thefts.

He also pleaded guilty to 13 offences of using stolen credit cards and asked for 60 similar charges to be considered. He is expected to be sentenced on Friday.

His brother-in-law Ishiaba Kasonga and another asylum-seeker from the Congo, living in Brixton, south London, admitted conspiring to conceal criminal property.