Fraudsters tried to steal a property worth in excess of £750,000 by obtaining their victim’s mail to hijack their identity. Fortunately, the fraudsters were caught out by the millionaire’s daughter who saw the house being advertised on Rightmove, the UK’s largest online real estate portal and property website.
Saeed Ghani, 30, from Manchester, stole mail from Mr To, 62, and tried to sell his half a million pound home in Cheshire after cunningly transferring the deeds of the property into his name.
The plot was foiled, however, when supermarket mogul Mr To’s daughter noticed the address was advertised for sale on the property website and alerted police.
He worked with accomplices Atif Mahmood, 42, and Toma Ramanauskaite, 30, on scams with Mahmood jailed for two years and two months and Ramanauskaite facing sentencing next month.
A couple’s pension worth nearly £90,000 was also stolen in the identity scam.
In June 2012, Ghani and co-defendant Mahmood conspired to steal identity documents from an insecure post box in the Stockport area.
They used the stolen mail to hijack the identity of Mr To and then carried out the plan to sell the property from under their noses.
Ghani also stole the identities of two homeowners in Bolton by using fraudulent passports in a bid to transfer the Land Registry deeds of their property, valued at more than £300,000.
Finally, in August 2014, Ghani and Ramanauskaite intercepted a husband and wife’s post in Boothstown, Salford, and again hijacked their identities, said police.
They took out driving licences in their names which were then used as identification to open new bank accounts.
They then approached the pension company to successfully transfer almost £90,000.
Ghani was jailed at Preston Crown Court for seven and a half years after he pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to three counts of conspiracy to defraud.
Mahmood, from Gorton, was sentenced for two years and two months after he too admitted at an earlier hearing to conspiracy to defraud.
Ramanauskaite, from Bury, pleaded guilty to the same charge and will be sentenced next month.
Detective Sergeant Phil Larratt, from Greater Manchester Police’s Fraud Team, said: ‘In all three cases Ghani worked with an associate to hijack people’s identities by stealing their mail.
‘Unfortunately in the final case, Ghani along with Ramanauskaite were again able to successfully hijack further identities to steal a couple’s pension.
‘Today’s verdict will hopefully send out a message to fraudsters in Greater Manchester that people will receive significant sentences for these types of crimes.
‘As this case demonstrates, fraudsters can use your identity details to open new bank accounts, request new driving licences and even try and steal your own home. We urge the public to secure their mail boxes and employ measures to protect their identities.