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Last Updated: Friday, 23 December 2005, 15:05 GMT
Postman is jailed for 20m fraud
Dido Mayue-Belezika
Mayue-Belezika was said to have masterminded the operation
A former postman who masterminded a "staggering" family-run cheque fraud from his council house has been jailed for six-and-a-half years.

Dido Mayue-Belezika, 34, from Camden, north London, was behind a 20m fraud.

His brother-in-law Ishiaba Kasonga, 40, from Brixton, south London, was jailed for three-and-half years for conspiring to conceal property.

The court heard the fraud operation, involving more than 220 people, netted about 5m from one area of London.

Mayue-Belezika intercepted hundreds of cheque books from the sorting office where he worked while Kasonga sold them on to money launderers across the country.

Shoes and Rolexes

Victims later discovered cheques of up to 1,200 had been cashed from their accounts.

Harrow Crown Court heard asylum seeker Mayue-Belezika, a Congolese national and married father-of-four, hid his criminal past to get the job and splashed out on a "money no object" spending spree.

While using a second-hand car at work, at home in his council flat in Malden Crescent he had an expensive entertainment system, designer clothes, and a Mercedes 4x4 vehicle parked outside.

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

Religion fear

Passing sentence, Judge Ronald Moss ordered he be deported once he serves his sentence.

"We expect our postmen to be honest and it is right the vast majority are hard-working and honest," he added.

"The dishonest few like you cause enormous problems and public loss of confidence. Clearly it was a highly successful and professional operation. You were a thief."

You were a thief
Judge Ronald Moss

Up to 5m was pilfered from 1,300 "mainly Jewish" residents in Golders Green, north London, alone.

Because of the large number of victims, both they and police initially feared the community was being "targeted because of religion", but that concern was "misplaced".

Police believe that nationally the fraud was as high as 20m, with "thousands" more losers but limited resources prevented a wider investigation.

Det Insp Murray Duffin said: "As far as we are concerned, this was the largest con of its kind in the country. We got 220 suspects and stopped counting.

"Dido's confidence clearly increased as the months went on, but greed kicked in, boosting his dishonesty to such a level there was no way it could go unnoticed."

Deportation

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 22 eventually charged, only one was cleared by a jury.

The rest, including Mayue-Belezika's brother Elienta, 28, 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.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
See the haul of designer items the postman bought



SEE ALSO:
20m fraudster's lavish lifestyle
23 Dec 05 |  England
Postwatch urges tighter controls
21 Dec 05 |  England


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