Posted on May 8, 2015

Gang ‘Conned Pensioners out of Half a Million Pounds to Fund Islamic State’

Alix Culbertson, Express, May 7, 2015

The five men–three of them students in London–are accused of being part of a British-based gang who preyed on elderly and vulnerable people by posing as police officers to get hold of their life savings.

The victims included a 73-year-old woman whose accounts were drained of £130,000.

Edward Aydin, prosecuting, said the gang are alleged to have fleeced around £400,000 from their victims and that the cash was then sent abroad to fund Islamic terrorists.

The five men appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court today after six men and a woman were rounded up by counter-terrorism police during a series of raids yesterday across London and the South East on suspicion of conspiracy to commit fraud.

Westminster University student Makhzumi Abukar, 23, Southbank University engineering student Sakaria Aden, 21, London Metropolitan University student Mohamed Dahir, 22, Yasser Abukar, 23, all from North London and Ibrahim Anderson, 38, from Luton appeared in court this afternoon.

Mr Aydin said: “Terrorism overall takes a new form in 2015, it’s not on the battlefield.

“This fraud, this financing terrorism, is on an industrial scale.

“It is sophisticated, it is a criminal network.

“This is a threat to the national security of this country.

“These people before you, they are the bank of terror. They are not small fry, they are deadly and dangerous.”

The group allegedly used ‘vishing’–short for ‘voice phishing’–to trick their victims into handing over their life savings as they posed as police officers and told them they had been the victims of fraud.

Once their victims were on the phone they would appear to hang up, but would use a device to keep the line open while the victim redialled 999 which would reconnect them to a another gang member pretending to be a police officer, it is claimed.

The victims would then hand over their personal details and the money would be transferred into the gang’s accounts or the victim was persuaded to withdraw and hand over cash to a courier who would take it to “a police station as evidence”.

Police documents revealed the victims were from Cornwall, Bedfordshire and one couple from Canterbury were aged 94 and 96.

Mr Aydin said: “We say these funds are then used to help those UK nominally to travel to Syria and Iraq fight for the Islamic State . . . These funds are used to buy weapons and bullets.”

The men appeared in the dock dressed in sweatshirts and jogging bottoms. All are charged with conspiring to defraud persons between February 15, 2014 and May 6 this year.

The five were remanded in custody to appear again at the Old Bailey on May 21.

A further alleged co-conspirator, Mohammed Sharif Abokar, 27, from Islington, north London, appeared before Dunstable Magistrates Court today.

An unnamed 32-year-old woman, also arrested on Wednesday, was later bailed on suspicion of money laundering.