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Fraud gang sentenced for Delay Repay claims conspiracy - London

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Action Abiodun Bamidele

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Four people have been sentenced to six years in prison for a conspiracy which saw them make £100,000 worth of fraudulent claims from train operators’ Delay Repay schemes.

The group were convicted after a two-year investigation by British Transport Police called Operation Action.

Ringleader Abiodun Bamidele and his friend Jeffrey Opoku, both former Southern staff, called each other names such as “Mr Hull Trains” and “Mr Great Western Train Robber” during the conspiracy as they joked about their crimes.

Bamidele, Opoku, Elizabeth Howell and George Omole Wangboje committed their crimes over a five year period from February 2010 to March 2015.

Investigating officer, Det Sgt Nick Thompson, said: “This group of individuals were making money by exploiting the Train Operating Companies’ (TOCs) Delay Repay compensation scheme that was put in place to compensate honest fare-paying members of the travelling public who have been inconvenienced by delayed trains.

“The group, led by Bamidele, used more than 120 different names and over 60 different addresses in submitting the fraudulent claims. Bamidele created the claim letters and was the person responsible for linking in with the various TOCs, whilst the others were responsible for allowing their address to be used and arranging for other addresses to be used.

“The claims were made using fake receipts, forged bank statements and fraudulently produced rail tickets.

“The group were eventually identified due to the amount of claims being received by the various train operating companies which meant staff started to recognise the handwriting.

“Forensic analysis and handwriting analysis showed Bamidele had written many of the letters under different names. As part of the investigation, Bamidele was put under surveillance and further evidence was gathered as he continued to commit offences.

“The offenders were arrested on 28 April 2015 and charged on 16 June 2016. They were convicted after a four week trial at Blackfriars Crown Court which commenced on 13 February 2017.”

The total number of claims made was 350, amounting to £98,007.80 in value.

The total number of claims paid out was 171, amounting to £54,922.45 in value.

The majority of claims paid out were in the form of Rail Travel Vouchers (RTVs), which Bamidele and Opoku sold on. Bamidele also collated multiple RTVs and used them to purchase season tickets, then returned a short term later and tried to get a cash refund on the season tickets, although fortunately this part of the fraud was unsuccessful. Sometimes cheques were paid out which the group would cash, despite their names not being on the cheques.

Howell arranged for Bamidele to have letters sent to her address and also that of a friend. On one occasion Bamidele contacted Howell and informed her of a delayed train from Glasgow, that would get him in excess of £500 and she immediately responded by saying “Hehehe na mi na want diamond ring!”

Three weeks after his arrest Wangboje was stopped at Tottenham Hale Station in possession of a fraudulent gold card season ticket, which he claimed he got from his friend Bamidele.

The defendants were convicted and sentenced as follows:

Abiodun Bamidele, aged 54, of Cuthbert Road, London, pleaded guilty to:

  • One count of conspiracy to defraud
  • One count of money laundering, contrary to section 328(1) of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002
  • One count of converting criminal property, contrary to section 327(1)(c)of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
  • One count of using a false instrument with intent, contrary to section 3 of the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981.
He was sentenced to 64 months’ imprisonment for conspiracy to defraud, reduced to 48 months’ imprisonment, plus two years in prison for each of the other three counts, to be served concurrently. In total he will serve four years in prison.
  • Jeffrey Opoku, aged 55, of Aytoun Road, London, pleaded guilty to:

  • One count of conspiracy to defraud
  • One count of entering into or becoming concerned in a money laundering arrangement, contrary to section 328(1) of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002

    He was sentenced to a total of two years in prison.

    Elizabeth Howell, aged 46, of Dovedale Avenue, Coventry, pleaded guilty to:

  • One count of conspiracy to defraud
  • One count of entering into or becoming concerned in a money laundering arrangement, contrary to section 328(1) of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002
 
She was sentenced to a total of nine months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, and ordered to undertake 120 hours of unpaid work.
  • George Omole Wangboje  , aged 58, of Little Grove Field, Harlow, Essex, was found guilty by unanimous jury of:

  • One count of conspiracy to defraud
  • One count of money laundering, contrary to section 328(1) of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002
  • One count of using a false instrument with intent, contrary to section 3 of the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981.

He was sentenced to a total of 15 months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, and ordered to undertake 200 hours of unpaid work.

Bamildele was sentenced at Blackfriars’ Crown Court today (6/4). Opoku, Howell and Wangboje were sentenced at the same court on Friday (31/3).

Phil Whittingham, Managing Director at Virgin Trains on the west coast said: “Both Virgin Trains franchises have worked closely with the British Transport Police to investigate these fraudulent claims and we’d like to thank them for their efforts in bringing these cases to court. We will continue to pursue robustly cases of fraud which not only come at a cost to the industry but also to other rail passengers.”

Southern's Fare Evasion Manager, Julia Burgess said: "We welcome genuine claims for delays to journeys of 15 minutes or more. However, this case demonstrates that if you abuse a scheme to compensate rail passengers who are delayed, it will be treated as serious fraud and you will be prosecuted. GTR worked closely with BTP on this case, and will continue to highlight to them those cases where we believe that fraudulent claims are being made."

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Action fraudulent letter

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Action travel claim letter

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Action Opoku

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