Fraudulent mortgage company prosecuted by Council
Ali Raza Hussain and Jamshaid Butt of The Mortgage Centre Ltd, 129 Cranbrook Road, Ilford have been handed prison sentences for fraud after a prosecution brought by Redbridge Council.
At Snaresbrook Crown Court on Wednesday 5 April 2017, Hussain was sentenced to two years imprisonment and disqualified from being a company director for 10 years and Butt was sentenced to a 12 months prison term, suspended for two years, with an order to carry out 300 hours of unpaid work. Costs have been adjourned pending the outcome of confiscation proceedings. When tried on 27 February 2017, the jury had found Hussain to be guilty of conspiracy to defraud and Butt, who also pleaded not guilty, was found guilty of fraudulent trading.
Redbridge Trading Standards became aware of problems following a large number of reports of crime to Citizens Advice Consumer Service and Action Fraud.
The defendants made dishonest representations to potential mortgage applicants and promoted a false mortgage arrangement service by advertising on Asian TV channels and radio stations offering to arrange mortgages. The adverts were targeted at those that had poor credit histories or who had been unable to obtain a mortgage from a high street bank, making potential customers financially vulnerable and more likely to make impulsive decisions.
The duo took advanced fees from clients for the purpose of arranging mortgages that were never provided, and the company then became un-contactable and evasive.
During the trial Hussain, who pleaded not guilty, tried to persuade the court that he was only a junior employee and had no control over the financial affairs of the business. However, Trading Standards evidence showed that it was he who had opened a number of company bank accounts and had received payments directly into his own personal bank account. Evidence was also provided of fake documents had been used by the business to make them appear to be legitimate.
Councillor Sheila Bain, Cabinet Member for Civic Pride said, “The sentencing sends a clear message that those in a position of trust who cheat their customers will be prosecuted and convicted. We will not tolerate this sort of criminal behaviour in our Borough.
“We make every effort to detect these types of crimes which affect our residents and we ask for the toughest penalties for offenders. We are pleased with the outcome of this prosecution and hope it will be a lesson to others.”
Due to the scale of the crimes that had been committed over an area ranging from Portsmouth to Scarborough, Redbridge were able to call on the services of the National Trading Standards Tri-Region Scambuster team who provided specialist investigators and resources.
Carl Robinson, Chair of the Tri-Region Scambuster team said, “This is an excellent result and reinforces the value and success of collaboration between local authority Trading Standards services and regional assets such as the Scambuster teams. This is a prime example of the type of scams often targeting specific and vulnerable groups within our communities that Trading Standards are tackling.”