September 4, 2017

Members of a north west-based gang who used fraudulently-obtained bank cards to steal more than £300,000 were sentenced at Preston Crown Court on Friday, 1 September 2017.

Gang members posed as genuine account holders to order new debit and credit cards and PINs, which they intercepted in the post.

The cards were used to make fraudulent payments, purchases and cash withdrawals, with the fraud in excess of £300,000.

One of the gang members – Harrington Okorodudu – used his businesses to launder fraudulent card payments.

Okorodudu was the owner of Low Cost Autos in Blackpool and used cards the group obtained to pay fines registered to vehicles associated with his company, and also for council tax.

Cards were also used to make repeated high value purchases through defendant Sunday Wilson’s mobile phone business Gadget Trader.

The fraud was spotted by Lloyds Bank and Barclays and referred to the Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit (DCPCU), a specialist unit sponsored by the banking industry and made up of officers from the City of London Police and the Metropolitan Police Service, bank investigators and support staff from UK Finance.

When officers investigated the gang’s activities, they found Santander and TSB had also been targeted.

The other gang members – Prince Ekuruema and Igho Emaike, plus Okorodudu and Wilson, were found guilty of fraud by false representation and money laundering following a trial at Blackpool Crown Court.

Four men were found not guilty. Another member of the group pleaded guilty and was sentenced to four months’ imprisonment at Preston’s Sessions Court at an earlier hearing.

Detective Constable David Sutton, of the DCPCU, said: “This was a complex investigation involving an organised crime group in the north-west of England. The DCPCU will seek to apprehend offenders targeting the banking industry in scams like this.”
Established in April 2002, the DCPCU has since achieved an estimated £486 million in savings from reduced fraud activity. The DCPCU is a unique proactive police unit, with a national remit. It is sponsored by UK Finance, the new industry body representing around 300 firms in the UK providing credit, banking, markets and payments-related services.

ENDS

Notes to editors:

1. Charges and sentences received

Harrington Okorodudu, of 19/11/1972, of Ludlow Grove, Blackpool, received 3 years 6 months for one count of Conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation.

Prince Ekuruema, 04/05/1980, Crossfield Road, Skelmersdale, Lancs, received 6 months for one count of Conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation.

Igho Emaike, 18/03/1976, of Belmont Avenue, Blackpool, received 3 months suspended for 12 months, curfew 8pm – 6am, requirement to wear a tag for one count of Conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation.

Sunday Wilson, 07/07/1976, of Crossland Road, Blackpool, received 3 years each for two counts of Conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation to run concurrently.

The Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit (DCPCU) is a unique proactive police unit, with a national remit, formed as a partnership between UK Finance, the City of London Police and the Metropolitan Police together with the Home Office. It is fully sponsored by the cards and banking industries, with an ongoing brief to investigate, target and, where appropriate, arrest and seek successful prosecution of offenders responsible for card, cheque and payment fraud crimes. It is headed up by a Detective Chief Inspector and comprises officers from the Metropolitan and City of London police forces who work alongside banking industry fraud investigators and support staff.

UK Finance is a new trade association which was formed on 1 July 2017 to represent the finance and banking industry operating in the UK. It represents around 300 firms in the UK providing credit, banking, markets and payment-related services. The new organisation brings together most of the activities previously carried out by the Asset Based Finance Association, the British Bankers’ Association, the Council of Mortgage Lenders, Financial Fraud Action UK, Payments UK and the UK Cards Association.