Jail sentences for data protection fraudsters
The Information Commissioner’s Office is again reminding businesses across the UK
not to be misled by bogus agencies that send notices demanding money to register
under the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA).
The warning comes after Leeds Crown Court sentenced three men to prison on
Friday 8 June for their involvement in fake data protection agencies. Bogus letters
were sent to thousands of businesses demanding registration fees of £135 to
register under the DPA in a mail scam which could have potentially netted up to £2
million for the fraudsters.
Neil Clark, prosecuting for the Crown, explained to the Court that £62,575 had
already been banked by the fraudsters but the police had also found that thousands
of printed bogus forms were ready to be posted to unsuspecting companies when
they ended the operation.
Liaquat Khan, aged 33 of Leeds, admitted two charges of conspiracy to defraud and
was jailed for two and a half years. Parminder Kaur Johal, aged 31, and Zahir
Abbas Shah, aged 33, both from Bradford, also admitted two charges of conspiracy
to defraud and were jailed for 13 months and 8 months respectively. A fourth
person, Nosheen Sheridan, aged 27 from Bradford, admitted one charge of
conspiracy and was given an 18 month supervision order with 50 hours unpaid work.
On passing sentence, Judge Roger Ibbotson said that they were involved in a
substantial and systematic fraud. He commented: “You specifically targeted the
owners of small businesses” and relied “on their wish to act lawfully and not commit
any breach of the regulations”.
After the case Detective Sergeant Lester Lee from West Yorkshire Police said: “The
sentences passed today show that the courts take this kind of crime seriously.
Anyone thinking of getting involved in such an offence should take note that we
painstakingly investigate these crimes until we are able to put the offenders before
Simon Entwisle, Chief Operating Officer at the Information Commissioner’s Office,
said: “We are delighted with this result. Once again it sends out a very clear
message: if you run a bogus data protection agency you will be investigated and
prosecuted”. He added: “If a business receives a letter out of the blue demanding
more than £35 to register under the DPA then this will be a scam. Our simple
message to businesses is to disregard the letter and do not pay the fee demanded.”
These convictions follow a successful multi-agency operation involving West
Yorkshire Police, West Yorkshire Trading Standards, the Health and Safety
Executive and staff at the Information Commissioner’s Office.