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Final member of mortgage fraud gang jailed

The final member of a gang of mortgage fraudsters, who was intercepted by the police as he was on the verge of obtaining an illegal £1.2m loan, has been sentenced to three-and-a-half years in jail.

Another four people who were involved with gang were sentenced to a total of 15 years in prison on Friday February 26 at Southwark Crown Court, following an investigation by officers from the Metropolitan Police Service’s fraud squad.

Colin Esimaje, 41, of Lewisham was sentenced to three and a half years’ imprisonment on Tuesday having been found guilty of conspiracy to defraud.

Omawumi Esimaje and Titalayo Okuneye pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud at earlier hearings, while Nadeem Sultan was found guilty of conspiracy to defraud and money laundering on  January 29. Kelvin Akwara was found guilty and sentenced in his absence on the same day.

During the trial the jury heard how Sultan, an “introducer’”, was the mastermind of the fraud and used his specialist knowledge of the financial sector to abuse the system. Sultan was initially treated as a witness, and it was only after new evidence came to light that officers made him a suspect in the case.

Following an intelligence-led investigation, the fraud squad’s enquiries revealed that Sultan had introduced the five other defendants to a genuine broker. Then, with assistance from Sultan, they assumed the identity of a number of home owners using counterfeit documents and applied for loans. The properties they targeted were all in the London area.

Their plan to obtain a loan of £1.2m mortgage for a house in north London was not successful, thanks to police intercepting them before the deal was made.

Colin Esimaje, Omawumi Esimaje, Okuneye and Akwara were arrested on 4 February 2009 in Romford Road, Forest Gate, as they were about to meet with a bona fide solicitor, who did not know of their scam, in a bid to complete the paperwork for the fraudulent loan application.

Further enquiries revealed that Okuneye had assumed the identity of two different women in an attempt to fool the estate agent and loan company. She firstly passed herself off as the homeowner who had recently passed away and when that failed, she pretended to be a relative who had inherited the property. When arrested, officers found that she was in possession of a counterfeit passport.

Police now know that Sultan was involved in an earlier mortgage fraud which successfully resulted in an £850,000 loan being approved. He was arrested on April 6 2009 and was found guilty of offences relating to both frauds. Police will now look to confiscate this money at future hearings under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Fraud squad detective chief inspector Robin Cross says: “The disregard these fraudsters showed for the homeowners they targeted was callous. Trying to pass themselves off as the owners of valuable properties who had already died goes to show the lengths they went to and the extent of their greed.

“I have no doubt that Nadeem Sultan was not only the catalyst behind this particular fraud but also an earlier one. We remain dedicated to investigating and prosecuting all complicit professionals that engage in organised criminality.”

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