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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 December 2005, 20:42 GMT
Postman admits part in 20m fraud
A postman who stole chequebooks used in a 20m nationwide fraud ring is facing a lengthy jail sentence.

Dido Mayue-Belezika, 34, from Camden, was said to be behind the scam, over which 24 people were charged.

He admitted various theft charges relating to stolen chequebooks and credit cards at Harrow Crown Court.

Police believe the operation netted about 5m from Golders Green in north London alone, and involved more than 220 people.

Police said Mayue-Belezika, a Congolese national, had splashed out on a "money no object" spending spree.

We got 220 suspects and stopped counting
Detective Inspector Murray Duffin

While using a second-hand car at work, at home in his council flat in Malden Crescent, Camden, he had an expensive entertainment system, designer clothes, and a Mercedes 4X4 vehicle.

He had 40,000 in his bank account and a safety deposit box shared with his brother-in-law Ishiaba Kasonga, 40, contained 125,000 and Rolex and Omega watches worth thousands of pounds.

It is thought thousands more chequebooks were intercepted from sorting offices around the country, but the size of the investigation meant police had to concentrate on the Golders Green operation.

Detective Inspector Murray Duffin said: "We got 220 suspects and stopped counting."

In April 500 police officers nationwide - most in London - raided properties across England, arresting 36 people in London, Leeds, Manchester, Bedford and Luton.

Of the 24 eventually charged, only one was cleared by a jury. African-born Kasonga, of Chute House, Brixton, admitted conspiring to conceal criminal property.

'Six-figure sum'

He was at Harrow Crown Court on Tuesday for a Newton hearing to determine the extent of his guilt.

Francis Sheridan, prosecuting, suggested this was "out of all proportion to what one might expect from a jobless local authority tenant".

Kasonga admitted having access to a six-figure sum while claiming various benefits worth 160 a week - but said the money had been honestly come by from businesses he sold before fleeing Africa.

The rest variously admitted conspiring to defraud, concealing criminal property, forgery, using false instruments and handling stolen goods. Nine have been recommended for deportation.

Most have already been sentenced to between six months and three years in jail.

Mayue-Belezika will be sentenced on Wednesday and Kasonga on Friday.

Postwatch urges tighter controls
21 Dec 05 |  England

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