South London man created fake accounts for criminals

A Lambeth man who previously worked as a bank employee received a suspended jail sentence earlier today (Tuesday, May 11) after he was convicted of involvement in a sophisticated ‘smishing’ scam.

25-year-old Ayman Touhami from Lambeth pleaded guilty to involvement in the scheme that created fake bank accounts used to lure victims into divulging their bank details.

He was sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, and ordered to carry out 200 hours of community work at Inner London Crown Court Tuesday.

Touhami was involved in what police described as a “sophisticated” scam designed to steal money from targets by pretending to be officials from their bank.

“The method targets individuals and companies using SMS text messages to induce victims to divulge their personal bank account information,” a Met Police spokesperson said.

News Shopper: Ayman TOUHAMI. Image: Met PoliceAyman TOUHAMI. Image: Met Police

“In most cases, the victim would receive a text message appearing to be from their bank requesting a call in relation to an unusual payment.

“The phone number provided was not a genuine banking number and would put them in direct contact with the fraudsters who posed as banking staff to take the details needed to access the victim’s bank account,” they continued.

“The victim’s money was then fraudulently transferred out of their account by the criminals into ‘mule’ bank accounts that have been set-up for this purpose.”

The money was later laundered through an organized criminal network.

The Met said that in this particular case, the prosecution was “limited to a total of 15 offences of money laundering – 12 between the dates of 11 July 2017 and 2 October 2017 and three between the dates of 28 August 2019 and 16 January 2020, totalling in excess of £250,000 of losses to victims”.

Two other men who were previously convicted – Quin Huang and Clarke Morgan-Findlay – used Touhami as a “man on the inside” of a bank to set up the fake accounts used in the scheme.

News Shopper: Huang and Morgan-Findlay. Images: Met PoliceHuang and Morgan-Findlay. Images: Met Police

Touhami reportedly accepted bribes in the form of money and gifts to do so.

“Huang and Morgan-Findlay made their living off the misery of others, while Touhami enabled this to happen by abusing his position at the bank in exchange for cash and gifts,” Detective Constable Angelina Pitorri, the investigating officer from the Met’s Cyber Crime Unit, said.

“While there’s no evidence to suggest they directly defrauded the victims themselves, they clearly played a key role in this organised crime network.

“Money laundering is often glamorised in popular media, and can be thought of as a victimless crime, however every pound involved has been taken from an innocent member of the public and it has a significant impact on their lives,” she added.

Bristol – Metro