A Cheshire Building Society employee who was at the heart of a conspiracy to cash forged cheques worth more than £160,000 has been jailed for two years.
Shamaela Kousar, 22, from Oldham, who worked for the Cheshire Building Society, admitted a series of fraud and conspiracy charges when she appeared before Crown Court in Manchester January 22. She was jailed for two years.
Five other gang members, who did not work for the society, also admitted fraud and conspiracy charges.
The court heard that Kousar, who was regarded as the inside person, set up special accounts for the gang members that would allow them to withdraw money straight away.
Then, over a 45-minute period on May 30, 2008, the gang members entered the society offices at Ashton under Lyne where Kousar worked and paid fake cheques totalling £160,000 into the accounts.
The four defendants were able to withdraw £23,600 straightaway from different branches of the Cheshire.
The heavy and sudden level of the withdrawals aroused suspicion within the society and the police were called in.
In mitigation for Kousar, it was said that she had been under pressure to commit the fraud by an abusive partner.
But after the case, DC Wayne Redford of Tameside Police said: “Kousar had a position of trust in the building society and she completely abused it, deliberately processing bogus checks and effectively stealing more than £23,000 from her employers.”
Two of the other defendants, Mark Robinson, 22, and Sohaib Bhatti, 26, both from Oldham, were jailed for 18 months.
The final three defendants, Yan Cheung, 22, of Stalybridge, Dawn Winterbottom, 32, of Oldham and Kalimaree Ellen, 30, of Hollinwood, received community work sentences.
A spokeswoman for the Cheshire Building Society says it would be inappropriate to comment now that the case has run its course.