A greedy building society employee from Keighley abused her position of trust to play a central role in a fraud conspiracy which targeted more than £100,000 from customers’ accounts.
Sarah Naheed, 25, a customer advisor at the Cross Hills branch of Skipton Building Society, knew how to access accounts containing large sums of money and how to transfer funds to bogus accounts, Bradford Crown Court heard yesterday.
The court heard the conspiracy netted £23,000 from one man’s account and a concerted effort had been made to get at £97,000 in another account, which had failed. Five other customer accounts had been targeted unsuccessfully.
Jailing Naheed for 25 months, Judge John Potter said she was central to the operation of the conspiracy and acted in breach of a high degree of trust.
He said that at the time she had paid a £1,000 deposit for a BMW and was interested in buying a villa in Dubai.
The judge told her: “Your behaviour was inspired by greed. You have tried to portray yourself in this case as a victim. The reality is you are a victim of your own greed and selfishness.”
Judge Potter said Naheed, of Springfield Road, may have fallen under the influence of someone more sophisticated. But he added: “You knew what you were doing and you were happy to do it for what you hoped would be significant personal gain.”
Co-conspirators Khalid Malik, 26, of Hammond Street, Halifax, and Naser Butt, 36, of Moins Close, Mixenden, Halifax, were jailed for 20 months and 19 months respectively. Waqas Azhar, 29, of Hammond Street, Halifax, was given a 12-month prison sentence suspended for 12 months. All four defendants had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud.
Judge Potter said it was a conspiracy to defraud the building society of significant sums of money in the latter part of 2011. The criminal enterprise only obtained £23,000 but substantially larger sums were targeted.
The court heard that confidential details of customer accounts were obtained. The accounts would then be attacked with the use of forged documentation to request sums of money. A company was set up to receive the fraudulently obtained sums. Mobile phones and e-mail accounts were also used in the fraud. At one stage another conspirator, who had not been apprehended, went to the Cross Hills branch and pretended to be a customer in a “determined and planned” attempt to obtain £97,000, but the money transfer did not take place.
Prosecutor Gurdial Singh said the society’s regulation department was alerted to the fraud by irregularities over that transfer.
Judge Potter said Butt allowed computers at his home to be used for the fraud and he had played an important organisational role, and Malik was a key organiser, but Azhar was involved to a lesser extent.
Naheed’s barrister, Stephen Wood, said that she had been an impressionable, immature young girl at the time of the offence and had succumbed to pressure applied to her.
Mr Wood said she was a decent, hardworking girl from a law abiding family which she had brought shame upon. She was loyal and would help others less fortunate than herself.
After she had been sentenced, Naheed’s mother collapsed in the public gallery and had to be given first aid.