Metrocentre jeweller helps catch conmen who fleeced businesses out of £90,000

Bilal Abbas, Umair Memon and Jordan Hamilton-Thomas have been jailed for two years each for their involvement in the scam. Credit: Northumbria Police

Three men have been jailed for two years each at Newcastle Crown Court after illegally pocketing more than £90,000 in cash and luxury items.

One abused his position working in a bank, to steal credit card details, which he then sold to two con artists in what police have described as a "sophisticated scam".

The court heard how the men, who are from West Yorkshire, used details of unsuspecting customers to target 13 different businesses in Newcastle, Gateshead and across the country. This happened over 14 months between October 2017 and December 2018.

Bilal Abbas, 30 used his role on Santander’s anti-fraud team to secure the card details of customers.

He would then sell that information to his associate Umair Memon, 28, who would use it to purchase high value goods by telephone under a fake name.

A third man, Jordan Hamilton-Thomas, 32, would then collect the goods from stores.

Days later the transactions would be identified as fraudulent by the bank and cancelled, leaving those businesses targeted out of pocket.

This activity was first uncovered in April 2018 when a jewellers in the Metrocentre contacted officers to report suspicious activity after Hamilton-Thomas visited their store three days in a row to purchase Rolex watches worth more than £14,000.

When police arrived he assaulted an officer and fled. But CCTV showed he had arrived with Memon, who was found to still be in the shopping centre and was arrested.

The operation was uncovered and Abbas was identified as being the only Santander employee to have had access to the details of each victim.

Searches at their homes in Bradford later led to the recovery of a haul of goods purchased using stolen card details.

The pictures found included one of a Rolex watch having champagne poured over it. Credit: Northumbria Police

Pictures were also seized from Memon’s phone that showed he and Hamilton-Thomas enjoying extravagant holidays and going on shopping sprees.

Pictures found included this one of Hamilton-Thomas drinking cocktails in an airport. Credit: Northumbria Police

All three admitted conspiracy to commit fraud and were sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court today (February 17).

Following the case, Detective Constable Patrick Naughten welcomed the custodial sentence and said it sent a strong message.

This was a large-scale scam that has left businesses in our region, and across the country, thousands of pounds out of pocket. I am delighted that they are now behind bars and will face the consequences of their actions. The only thing waiting for fraudsters at the end of a scam will be a police cell.

Detective Constable Patrick Naughten, Northumbria Police

Following the sentencing, a Santander spokesperson said: “Santander actively assisted the police with their investigation and we are pleased to see the perpetrators brought to justice."