Gang's finance scam netted nearly £400,000; leader gets six-year jail term


The mastermind behind a seven-strong gang who set up 90 bogus companies to steal more than £800,000 in a VAT and car finance fraud has been jailed for six years.

Derby man Shahid Mohammad led the gang in the fraud which included a fake recruitment firm to steal identities. His co-defendants were handed suspended prison sentences.

A joint investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), Derbyshire Police and West Midlands Police revealed the gang used 91 different stolen identities to submit claims between January 2015 and November 2016, pocketing £390,980.

The gang also used these fake firms to submit fraudulent VAT repayments totalling £80,716.

Ringleader Mohammad, 31, and five other men; Zahid Mohammad, 30, Mohammed Maroof, 28, Adnan Sharif, 43, Mohsan Hussain, 25, and Usman Sharif, 41, were convicted after a trial at Birmingham Crown Court which ended in March 2024.

Mark Robinson, operational lead, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: “Shahid Mohammad and his criminal gang caused utter misery for dozens of innocent people whose stolen details were used in this fraud.

“A huge amount of effort and planning went into committing these offences, which stole much needed money from our public services.

The fraudsters set up a fake recruitment firm to steal identities and list people as directors of fake car dealerships without their knowledge. They then used the addresses of vacant premises across the Midlands for their phony dealerships.

Personal information stolen through the recruitment firm was used to record made-up vehicle sales and complete car finance agreements with lenders.

Once paid out by lenders, the money was transferred through several bank accounts and withdrawn in cash. These fake firms then made fraudulent VAT repayment claims.

The gang tried to steal a further £144,500 in car finance and a further £233,160 in VAT but these payments were withheld by HMRC.

Unusually, the trial was concluded without a jury after they were discharged in November following allegations of interference.

The High Court ruled in January that the judge Andrew Smith could complete the trial and deliver the verdicts without a jury.

All six men were sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court on May 9.

The final gang member, Nathon Downes, 41, of Stoke-on-Trent, pleaded guilty in March 2022 and will be sentenced on 20 May.

Action to recover the money has been launched.

In detail:

  • Shahid Mohammad of Crewe Street, Derby, was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to cheat the public revenue and two counts of fraud after a trial at Birmingham Crown Court on 2 March 2024. He was jailed for six years.
  • Zahid Mohammad of Crewe Street Derby, was found guilty of conspiracy to cheat the public revenue after a trial at Birmingham Crown Court on 2 March 2024. He was handed a 12-month prison sentence suspended for 18 months. He was also ordered to complete 25 hours of rehabilitation activity and 150 hours of unpaid work.
  • Mohammed Maroof of Duncan Road, Derby, was found guilty of one count of one count of conspiracy to cheat the public revenue and one count of fraud after a trial at Birmingham Crown Court on 2 March 2024. He was handed a two-year prison sentence suspended for 18 months. He was also ordered to complete 20 hours of rehabilitation activity and 180 hours of unpaid work.
  • Adnan Sharif of Yardley Fields Road, Birmingham, was found guilty of conspiracy to cheat the public revenue after a trial at Birmingham Crown Court on 2 March 2024. He was handed a nine-month prison sentence suspended for 15 months. He was also ordered to complete 100 hours of unpaid work.
  • Mohsan Hussain of Gilpin Close, Birmingham, was found guilty of money laundering after a trial at Birmingham Crown Court on 2 March 2024. He was handed an 18-month community order with 30 hours of rehabilitation activity and 100 hours of unpaid work. The judge also took account of time spent on electronic tag, which was the equivalent of seven months in custody.
  • Usman Sharif of Yardley Fields Road, Birmingham, was found guilty of conspiracy to cheat the public revenue after a trial at Birmingham Crown Court on 2 March 2024. He was handed a nine-month prison sentence suspended for 15 months. He was also ordered to complete 100 hours of unpaid work.



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