A "sophisticated" fraudster who headed up a criminal gang has been jailed for seven years for defrauding high street banks out of almost £8m through multiple fraudulent mortgage applications.
Mohammed Asif Younas (pictured), 50, was sentenced at Southwark Crown Court to seven years' imprisonment for conspiracy to defraud and four-and-a-half years for conspiracy to money launder, to run concurrently, after pleading guilty to the charges.
Younas operated under the alias Mahmood Ali and was director of bogus Essex-based firm Montague Mason Solicitors.
He submitted false paperwork to Birmingham Midshires and Abbey banks in connection with 33 fraudulent mortgage applications in a two month period between October and December 2008.
Gang members identified suitable properties across the South East to use for false mortgage applications, with the homeowners unaware of the crime.
The fraudulent mortgage applications were finalised with false paperwork completed by the fake solicitors and signed by Younas, including the Certificates of Title requesting the banks release the funds.
Once the loan was completed and the funds transferred, the money was moved from the solicitor's account into a network of bank accounts, controlled by Younas and his gang. The money was then withdrawn in cash.
The fraud came to light after HBOS and Abbey asked the City of London Police to look into Montague Mason Solicitors in March 2009. Detectives uncovered an "extensive criminal network" that led them to execute search warrants at addresses across the UK in June 2009.
Four men that were part of the same gang as Younas - Khawar Khan, Imran Mirza, Nadeem Mirza and Farhan Khan - were arrested during the warrants and subsequently jailed, having pleaded guilty to numerous fraud related offence, in December 2009.
However, Younas remained at large until the police, working with the DVLA, tracked him down by matching his Mahmood Ali driving licence image to one with the name of Mohammed Asif Younas.
Det Supt Bob Wishart, of the City of London Police, said: "Younas is a sophisticated fraudster who hid behind an alias to con banks and evade police.
"His meticulous planning and precise execution of this fraud ensured maximum gains, but the scale of his crime resulted in the lengthy sentence passed.
"Mortgage fraud damages the UK's economy and therefore affects us all. As the National Lead Force for Fraud, we actively go after people who orchestrate and commit this crime and continue to work with the banks to ensure people can have faith in the integrity of the mortgage system."
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