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Masthaven fraud ring sees four jail terms

Four men have been arrested and sentenced for attempting mortgage fraud after posing as sheikhs looking to secure a 1.5m loan from Masthaven Bridging Finance.



Yuan Phoon, 13 April, 2012

Mortgage Introducer first discovered the events of a fraud taking place in February where it was revealed that the fraud had been stopped dead in its tracks.

The fraudsters used the identities of two fake sheikhs to pose as wealthy Arab brothers Malthoum and Said Mebjar.

They claimed to own a £6m property in Bayswater in London and attempted to secure a £1.5m bridging loan against it using forged documents.

The property had however been hijacked using Land Registry documents.

Masthaven underwriters became suspicious of the application when they liased with utility companies for proof of address.

The lender then contacted the City of London police and discovered that the passport number used for identification verification was of a deceased nine year old boy and the photos in the passport were replaced.

The police then held a sting operation with the aid of Masthaven and its managing director Andrew Bloom.

An undercover police office, disguised as a personal assistant to Bloom, sat in on a meeting with Bloom at a Marriott Hotel in London's West End.

The fraudsters were then arrested when two men arrived dressed as sheikhs.

Jonathan Kinnear, Queen's Counsel, prosecuting, said: "Both dressed in Arab gear and were posing as the Mebjars."

Bloom gave evidence for three consecutive days in early January at the Old Bailey.

Mortgage broker Jonathan Flynn, 38, was found guilty of fraud and jailed for four-and-a-half years and banned from being a director of a company for seven years.

Flynn was said by the judge to have played an important part in the fraud.

Shane Martin, Ahmed Ali, also admitted their guilt and were each jailed for two-and-a-half years.

Shakil Ahmed, pleaded guilty and was jailed for three years in his absence, having fled on bail.

A warrant has been issued for his arrest.

Detective constable Lizzie Roberts, from City of London Police, said: "The gang used forged documents, a fake property valuation and dressed as sheikhs to try and disguise their true intentions, which was to commit a major fraud.

"But none of this was enough to overcome sound business practices and an investigation team ready to act quickly."




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