Four men have been sentenced for their role in laundering over £613,000 of stolen funds through a pizzeria in Carshalton.

This follows a successful investigation by the Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit (DCPCU), a specialist police unit sponsored by the banking industry that investigates the criminal gangs responsible for fraud.

Muhammud Miah, a former employee at Metro Bank from Dagenham, abused his position to steal £613,256.38 from a bank account holder by fabricating emails that authorised the transfer of the £613k to Hussain’s Pizza takeaway account.

Miah tried to cover his tracks by fabricating more emails and fraudulently transferred another £620,000 to the account holder.

He made the fraudulent transfer of funds by CHAPS payment to Syed Hussain, the owner of a pizzeria in Carshalton.

Hussain then transferred £68,500 of the money to his own personal account. He claimed this money was linked to the sale of his pizzeria, however there is no indication that the business had actually changed hands.

Hussain then distributed the remainder of the funds in several payments, each worth tens of thousands of pounds, to various other individuals and small businesses across the country. Recipients of the funds include Waheed Arshad of Romford, Essex, who tried to hide his tracks by creating fake invoices for kitchen equipment supposedly provided to Hussain’s pizzeria.

It later emerged that Arshad had actually spent the money he received on a large number of mobile phones.

A further beneficiary of the fraud includes Zeeshan Aziz, of Greater Manchester, whom received payments worth several thousands of pounds.

The fraud was spotted by the bank and referred to the DCPCU. All victims were fully refunded.

Miah, 30, pleaded guilty to abuse of position and conspiracy to defraud and was sentenced to six years and eight months in prison.

Hussain, 36, was found guilty after trial of acquiring criminal property. The jury were unable to agree on a second charge of conspiracy to defraud and it was left to lie on file. Hussain was sentenced to five years in prison.

Arshad, and Aziz, were found guilty after trial of acquiring criminal property. Arshad received a prison sentence of five years and Aziz received an 18 month community order and 200 hours unpaid work requirement.

Detective Constable Ben O’Shea, who investigated the case for the DCPCU, commented:

“Mr Miah abused his position of trust to steal hundreds of thousands of pounds which was then laundered by a network of individuals across the country.

“Several of these criminals tried to use a pizzeria as a way to appear legitimate and hide their tracks. Working closely with the bank, we were able to demonstrate that these individuals were fully complicit in this scam and had profited from their role in it.

“This case sends a clear message that laundering the proceeds of fraud is a serious crime that can have serious consequences.”