Man used Covid loan account for illegal car scam cash

A man opened a bank account for a Covid ‘Bounce Back’ loan and allowed it to be used to funnel £100,000 from a nationwide car sales fraud, a court has been told.

Arif Shariff, 33, helped a fraud which cheated dozens of duped customers out of substantial amounts of money.

The scam was run by another man, Ravinder Randhawa, who pretended he had a number of car sales businesses dealing in luxury Range Rovers, Porsches and Mercedes. Customers tried to buy cars from him but he would pocket the cash.

Shariff opened an account that was filled with £100,000 by Randhawa.

He said he had run a successful business but hit hard times during the Covid lockdown and became desperate for cash. He claimed he had no knowledge of the wider fraud.

Shariff, of Bents Close, Bedford, admitted money laundering for Randhawa when he appeared at Exeter Crown Court. He was jailed for 20 months.

Judge Peter Johnson told him: “You were clearly doing this for financial gain.” He said the bank account was essential for the fraud to succeed and significant sums of money went through it.

Mr Jonathan Mole, defending, said Shariff had run a successful maintenance business before the health pandemic. He was at a low ebb at the time of the offending in the autumn of 2020 but had opened the account for legitimate reasons.

Another man Jason Gilbert, 55, was also sentenced for his part in the fraud.

Gilbert of Edrington Hall Road, Birmingham admitted conspiracy to transfer criminal property.

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His role was to collect the proceeds of Randhawa’s fraud. These items, worth tens of thousands of pounds, included watches and jewellery.

He said he got involved due to money pressures.

Gilbert was jailed for 27 months.

Randhawa, 30, of London Road, Ashford, also appeared in court and admitted multiple fraud offences. He will be sentenced at a later date. Judge Johnson warned him he would go to jail for his leading role when he returned to court on July 16.

Devon Live – Devon News