A fraudster who used fake ID to withdraw tens of thousands of pounds from other people’s bank accounts has been jailed for three and a half years.
Julian Mabbutt, of Cherwell Green, Northampton, pleaded guilty to 15 counts of fraud, with a further 65 offences taken into consideration at the Inner London Crown Court.
Between March 2015 and August 2018, Mabbutt entered more than 80 banks and building societies across the UK and used fake ID documents to withdraw money from customers’ accounts.
The fraudster used sophisticated counterfeit passports and driving licences displaying the names of account holders, but featuring a photo of himself.
He then used these fake documents to withdraw large sums of cash, with a total of £152,000 of fraud committed over the period.
Around £113,000 of fraudulent withdrawals were attempted by Mabbutt but were unsuccessful.
The fraudster targeted banks and building societies up and down the country including in Nottingham, Mansfield, Leicester, Darlington, York, Blackpool, Wigan, Stafford, Grantham, Lincoln, Scunthorpe, Hull and Peterborough.
His suspicious activity was eventually spotted by in-branch CCTV footage and was referred to the Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit (DCPCU), a specialist police unit funded by the banking and cards industry.
All victims of the fraud were fully refunded.
Detective Constable Matthew Cornell, who investigated the case for the DCPCU, said: “Mabbutt used sophisticated fake ID documents to go on a fraud spree across the UK, withdrawing thousands of pounds from customers’ accounts.
“Working closely with the banking industry, we were able to identify this criminal and bring him to justice.
“Today’s sentencing sends a strong message to any would-be fraudsters that they will be caught and punished.”
The sentencing comes amid a record high in identify theft in the UK – with scammers using increasingly sophisticated tactics to obtain people’s details and defraud them.
Experts told Mirror Money it’s likely the criminal was working as part of a bigger gang that could have harvested people’s personal details online, for example through “phishing emails” or data breaches.
“We would always urge people to follow the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign to avoid giving their personal details out to a fraudster,” a statement from the Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit told the Mirror.
To stay safe, customers are urged to follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign:
A genuine bank, organisation or the police will never contact you out of the blue to ask for your PIN, full password or to move money to another account.
Only give out your personal or financial details to use a service that you have given your consent to, that you trust and that you are expecting to be contacted by.
Never automatically click on a link in an unexpected email or text.
Always question uninvited approaches in case it’s a scam. Instead, contact the company directly using a known email or phone number.
Protect your identity
Never respond to unsolicited emails and phone calls.
Use different passwords for different accounts – particularly for your email account and online banking.
Use strong passwords made up of three random words – you can add in numbers and symbols, and use a combination of lowercase and uppercase letters if you want.
Before entering payment details online check the link is secure. There should be a padlock symbol in the browser window frame (not the page itself), and the web address should being with ‘https://’. The ‘s’ stands for ‘secure’.
On social media, always use privacy settings to ensure that only friends and family can see your posts.
What to do if you’re a victim
Act fast if you think you have been a victim of identity fraud.
If you receive anything that seems suspicious, implies you have an account with the sender when you don’t, or looks out of the ordinary, do not ignore it, report to the UK’s national fraud reporting centre Action Fraud here or call them on 0300 123 20 40.
Where it’s believed your financial information may be at risk, notify your bank or building society immediately.