Con artists attempted to steal a house worth £750,000 after hijacking the owner’s identity.
Saeed Ghani, 30, from Manchester, intercepted post belonging to Minh To, 62, which helped him take over his identity. Ghani was then able to transfer the deeds of Mr To’s home, a £750,000 bungalow, and list it for sale.
The scam was only uncovered when To’s daughter spotted his home being advertised on Rightmove.
Back in June 2012 Ghani and co-defendant Atif Mahmood, 42, stole identity documents belonging to Mr To from an insecure post box.
They also took over the identities of two other homeowners with the intention of stealing their homes too.
Saeed Ghani and Atif Mahmood
Image: Greater Manchester Police
On a separate occasion Ghani and another criminal, Toma Ramanauskaite, 30, stole a husband and wife’s post in Salford and used it to hijack their identities.
That time they took out driving licences in their names which were then used as identification to open bank accounts. They then approached the couple’s pension provider and successfully stole £90,000 from their pension.
“In all three cases Ghani worked with an associate to hijack people’s identities by stealing their mail,” says Detective Sergeant Phil Larratt, from Greater Manchester Police’s Fraud Team. “Unfortunately in the final case, Ghani along with Ramanauskaite were again able to successfully hijack further identities to steal a couple’s pension.”
Ghani has now been sentenced to seven and a half years after pleading guilty to three counts of conspiracy to defraud.
Mahmood has been jailed for two years and two months after admitting conspiracy to defraud. Ramanauskaite pleaded guilty to the same charge and will be sentenced next month.
“As this case demonstrates, fraudsters can use your identity details to open new bank accounts, request new driving licences and even try and steal your own home,” says DS Larratt. “We urge the public to secure their mail boxes and employ measures to protect their identities.”
Protecting your post
Your post is a precious commodity for a criminal – it can help them steal your identity and along with it your bank balances, credit history and, as experienced by Mr To, even your house.
Here are five steps to protect your post:
1. Make sure your post box is secure
2. Ask the Post Office to hold on to your post when you go on holiday
3. Set up postal redirection with Royal Mail when you move house
4. Once you’ve opened your mail dispose of it carefully. Invest in a shredder to destroy sensitive documents before you throw them away and keep important documents locked away in your home. Burglars will grab documents in the hope they can sell the information on to identity thieves.
5. If you think your mail has been intercepted or tampered with inform Action Fraud and the Royal Mail.