Nationwide bank employee who targeted accounts of elderly customers in Portsmouth is jailed

Cllr Rob New

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A BANK employee who was part of a criminal gang that targeted and defrauded elderly customers has been jailed for two-and-a-half years.

Hugo Sean Mbaeri, of Kings Road, Southsea, was part of a gang that stole more than £22,000 through unauthorised standing orders from Nationwide building society accounts in Portsmouth.

We are delighted to have completely dismantled this callous criminal gang intent on stealing funds from innocent people.

Detective Constable Mark Yellop, lead investigator

Mbaeri, 26, worked at Nationwide’s Fareham and Gosport branches, and aided the fraud by looking at customer accounts to review ‘healthy’ balances and then providing details of the customers’ signatures.

Fraudulent standing order mandates for monthly sums of about £2,500 were then created using the signatures.

Fingerprints of two other gang members, Biyi Ayanwale, 26, of College Park Close, London, and Korine Bright, 24, of Silbury House, Sydenham Hill, were found on the standing order documents.

The remaining gang members were ‘money mules’, with four – Rebecca Jack, 20, of Little Marlow Road, Marlow, Patrick Reddington, 21, of Gavestone Road, London, Tendai Shumba, 20, of Oxford Road, Denham, and Christiana Tella, 21, of Harlech Gardens, Hounslow – all receiving stolen funds into their bank accounts.

They were then quickly withdrawn using the account’s payment card at ATMs and over the counter with ID produced.

Two others – Abiola Balogun, 19, of Westbury Avenue, London, and Kiera Joseph, 20, of Marcus Garvey Mews, London, – were the intended recipients of funds but the standing order requests were not approved and no funds were transferred.

The pattern of activity was identified by fraud investigators at Nationwide and the case was then passed to the DCPCU – a special police unit.

Det Con Mark Yellop, lead investigator, said: ‘We are delighted to have completely dismantled this callous criminal gang intent on stealing funds from innocent people.’

Nine accounts were targeted, with a total of £22,450 stolen from eight of the accounts, the majority of which belonged to people over 65. Mbaeri was sentenced at The Old Bailey this week, along with Ayanwale who received two years and three months’ imprisonment. Tella was sentenced on July 27 to seven weeks’ imprisonment suspended for 12 months. The remainder of the gang were sentenced on June 4.