Tuesday, 13 September 2016 13:48

Dodgy B2B debt collector directors jailed for decade of fraud

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A brother and sister from Greater Manchester have been convicted of fraud after using a network of sham companies to defraud businesses out of hundreds of thousands of pounds. Mohammed Ali and Samira Saddique set up a string of fake businesses, specialising mainly in so-called debt collection, but in reality the companies were nothing more than a vehicle for advance fee fraud on an industrial scale.

The siblings spun a complex and deceptive web, yet despite the extent of their crimes and the significant financial losses incurred by their victims, they received surprisingly lenient prison sentences.

How the Fraud Was Carried Out

Mohammed Ali and Samira Saddique (AKA Samaira Sadique, AKA Sumera Siddique) formed a company called Barclays Recovery Services Limited (company number 05277580) in 2004. The similarity with Barclays Bank was deliberate, and designed to fool their unsuspecting marks in to believing the company had an association with the high street bank. Barclays Recovery Services charged people an upfront fee to recover debts, and sometimes, to start legal proceedings. Neither of these things actually happened; the pair simply disappeared with the cash.

When Barclays Bank realised its brand was being used, the pair changed the name of the company to Barclyde Recovery Services, and carried on with the job at hand. When we investigated Barclyde Recovery Services, we found 7 unpaid county court judgements against it, all dating from a six-month period in 2011.

At the same time as this company was engaged in fraud, Saddique formed a company called Barclays Debt Recovery Ltd (Company number 06688392) using a different spelling of her name, Samaira Sadique. Along with further companies under the name of Sumera Siddique.

Untangling the Web

Samira Saddique/Samaira Sadique/Sumera Siddique was no stranger to company directorship.

Using the name of Samaira Sadique she was a director of the rather grand-sounding Crown Consultancy Worldwide Investigation Bureau Ltd (05331380), which she founded with her brother. She was also director of the following short lived companies:

  • APNA Bazaar TV Ltd (05384378)
  • ADC Organisation Ltd (05294948)
  • Barclays/Barclyde Recovery Services Limited (05277580)
  • Global Recoup Limited (06668061)
  • Home 2 Home Furnishings Ltd (05508378)
  • Ocean Bar Ltd (05256835)
  • Rabi Foods Limited (05925648).
  • T.D.C.L Ltd (06668039)

Under the name Sumera Siddique she was an officer of the following companies:

  • Barclays Debt Recovery Ltd (06688392)
  • Westwood Wholesalers (06179308)
  • Sumera Siddique Limited (09421989)

Various companies they ran attracted press attention, with reports going back to May 2008. The Daily Mail pointed out that ADC Organisation Ltd was failing to deliver services, had no company secretary, and no valid ICO registration. This investigation was followed by similar reports in the Mirror in 2012.

The same company was prosecuted for sending spam faxes – an activity the Daily Mail also refers to in its article.

Over nearly a decade, the brother and sister duo conned small businesses and individuals out of hundreds of thousands of pounds. They promised debt recovery services that they never delivered, leaving their ‘clients’ waiting for cheques that never came.

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Making the Punishment Fit

In March 2016, justice finally caught up with the siblings and they pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud, and fraud by false representation. You would think that after nearly a decade of fraud and illicit earnings of hundreds of thousands of pounds that both these dodgy directors would be in for a long holiday at her Majesty’s pleasure, but alas it was not to be.

At Chester Crown Court on 5 July, Ali received a paltry 15 month prison sentence. Saddique received a slightly longer, but still insultingly short, 24 month sentence. Both have also been banned from becoming company directors for a grand total of 5 years each.

Now, this is a particularly nasty case, because it has elements of all the worst aspects of advance fee fraud: con tricks, arrogance and intimidation. The tactics that these dodgy debt collection companies use have been covered by us before here. Essentially, these frauds involve charging upfront costs for goods or services that they have no intention of providing.

These criminals persisted with their fraudulent activity for many, many years despite press attention and numerous complaints. The fact that this pair was involved in at least a dozen short-lived businesses – and was actually prosecuted at one stage – should have raised alarm bells at Companies House and the Insolvency Service far sooner.

As we have said before the limited company system is broken and needs root and branch reform if it is to be fit for purpose in the 21st century. Unfortunately, without such reform dodgy directors and fraudsters will remain free to steal from unsuspecting marks without fear of incurring a significant jail sentence when they are eventually caught.

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Public domain image by flickr user Pascal