Page last updated at 20:18 GMT, Friday, 22 May 2009 21:18 UK

Scout code fraudsters sentenced

Top from left, Lawrence Aitken, Michael Finch, Mohammed Hamraaz, Azhar Hussain, David Legore, Ansir Khan and John Phipps
Some of the defendants were given prison sentences

Fraudsters whose plans to steal £1.2m from banks were foiled when police used a scouting handbook to crack the code have been sentenced.

Ansir Khan, an employee of Carter Allen Private Bank (CAPB) in Sheffield, accessed customers' details from the computer, Nottingham Crown Court heard.

To avoid being caught, he wrote down their details in a complex code.

Det Con Chris Stephens, a former district commissioner in the Scouts, used the handbook to crack the code.

The court heard 22-year-old Khan, of Jesmond Avenue, Bradford, passed on customers' details to his accomplices.

He wrote down personal information in the code whereby he substituted letters for symbols and numbers.

It was like a light bulb came on when one of the lads in the office said it looked like a code from the Scouts
Det Con Chris Stephens

He then passed on the details to his accomplices who rang up the bank pretending to be legitimate customers before transferring large sums of money into their own accounts.

Khan was finally caught out when police raided his home and found the codes jotted down on bits of paper.

Det Con Stephens, who has been in the Scouts for more than 40 years, used the Scoutmaster's A to Z, which was first published in 1958, to decipher the code.

Between April 2005 and May 2006, the gang managed to steal £707,000, but another £500,00 did not go through.

Of the money stolen, £315,000 was retrieved and refunded.

Defendants jailed

Khan earlier pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal and was jailed for three years and three months.

Mohammed Hamraaz, 25, of Killinghall Road, Bradford, was jailed for two years for the same offence.

Michael Finch, 64, of Plaistow Lane, Bromley, London, admitted conspiracy to steal and was jailed for 30 months.

Madeline Finch, 59, of the same address, admitted the same offence and was jailed for 50 weeks, suspended for 18 months. She was also ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work.

Sam Shaw, 23, of Fulwood Crescent, Nottingham was given a two-year community order after admitting conspiracy to steal.

David Legore, 49, of Whitemoss Close, Nottingham and Mohammed Ikram, 22, of Tile Street, Bradford, earlier pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess or acquire criminal property.

Legore was jailed for four years and Ikram received an 18-month community order and told to do 120 hours of unpaid work.

Officer praised

John Phipps, 64, of Westwood Rise, Ilkley, was jailed for four years for conspiracy to steal and Frances Alfred, 26, was convicted of conspiracy to possess or acquire criminal property. She was given a 40-week suspended sentence and told to do 200 hours of unpaid work.

Lawrence Aitken, 38, was jailed for four years whilst his father Reginald Aitken, 65, was given a 40-week suspended sentence. Both were found guilty of of conspiring to possess criminal property for their part in a similar fraud linked to the scam in Sheffield.

Azhar Hussain, 47, of Fulwood Crescent, Nottingham, was found guilty of the same charge in connection with the similar scam and jailed for six years.

Speaking after the case Det Con Stephens said: "You just never know what the job as a police officer presents.

"It was like a light bulb came on when one of the lads in the office said it looked like a code from the Scouts."

Det Ch Insp Steven Taylor said: "Chris has taken a lot of stick over the years for the hard work he puts into the Scouts."

He added: "It's paid dividends this time in the fight against crime. Baden-Powell would be smiling in his boots."



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