London

Fake sheikh attempted fraud gang jailed

Image caption Two men posed as wealthy Arab brothers

Four men have been jailed for an attempted £1.5m fraud which involved two people posing as rich Arab sheiks.

They pretended to own a £6m home in an attempt to secure a "loan".

The fraud was exposed when central London finance company Masthaven became suspicious and called in police, who organised a sting operation.

The four had all admitted conspiracy to defraud by way of false representation. One of the defendants disappeared while on bail awaiting sentencing.

Mortgage broker Jonathan Flynn, 38, of Pudsey, West Yorkshire, was jailed for four-and-a-half years.

Shakil Ahmed, 36, from Paddington, west London, was jailed for three years in his absence, having fled while on bail.

Ahmed Ali, 47, of Manchester and Shane Martin, 51, both of Tarporley, Cheshire, were jailed for two-and-a-half years.

Flynn was also banned from being a company director for seven years.

The Old Bailey heard that Ali was one of the men who posed as a sheikh.

Another man accused of imitating a sheikh was acquitted.

'Forged documents'

The court heard the police operation was staged at a West End hotel after Andrew Bloom, managing director of Masthaven, became suspicious of the gang.

Image caption Jonathan Flynn and Shakil Ahmed were both jailed for their roles in the fraud

Two of the men turned up posing as a pair of wealthy Arab brothers and were arrested.

Prosecutor Jonathan Kinnear QC said the brothers, who did not exist, were put forward to guarantee the loan with an expensive property.

The flat, which was on sale, had been "hijacked" using paperwork from the Land Registry, he said.

Speaking after sentencing, City of London Police Det Con Lizzie Roberts 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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