A PERSISTENT fraudster used documents stolen from the mail to take over the bank accounts of people in Stratford, Solihull and Tamworth to obtain tens of thousands of pounds.
But fortunately for Qwame Leroy’s victims, the financial institutions have covered the losses, a judge at Warwick Crown Court has heard.
And the banks may get a large proportion of that back from cash and property seized when Leroy, who also used a string of other names, was arrested.
The 41-year-old, of St Catherines Close, Coventry, was jailed for two-and-a-half years after pleading guilty to theft, frauds, possessing criminal property and converting criminal property.
Prosecutor Andrew Wilkins said in February 2016 Leroy was stopped in Stratford in a car in which the police found documents in other people’s names.
Shortly afterwards a woman living in the town became concerned some of her mail had gone missing – and then received a letter from Tesco Bank to tell her that a loan application had been declined.
She had not applied for a loan, and she then received a bank statement from Nat West for an account in her name which she had not opened.
The statement showed the account was £1,750 overdrawn, despite having had a fraudulently-obtained £18,000 loan from Sainsburys Bank paid into it.
A Solihull man also became a victim of mail theft, after which an account was opened in his name and a cheque for £400 made out in the name of the Stratford woman.
An attempt was then made to pay the cheque into the account in her name, but it was declined by Nat West.
In March 2016 another resident in the same Stratford road applied for a new Nationwide bank card which was intercepted after Leroy had ‘taken over’ his account.
Having done so, Leroy applied for a £400 loan from Wonga which was paid into the account and then spent.
He also posed as a woman from Tamworth to make unauthorised payments including £17,000 to an online auctioneer for items of jewellery – but that payment was stopped after the woman was contacted and asked to confirm the transaction.
That fraud had been carried out using a phone registered to Leroy, and when he was arrested and the police searched his home, they found £22,000 in cash.
After he had been interviewed and released, he went to a car dealer and bought a new car, paying £10,000 in cash and part-exchanging a car which had been seen in the area of some of the mail thefts.
When he was arrested again, Leroy, who also goes by a number of other names and had previous convictions for fraud, claimed the cash had come from the sale of land in Ghana.
“If you add the sums up, you get to well over £40,000, and the victims suffered damage to their credit rating,” said Mr Wilkins, who added that none of them lost out financially because the losses were borne by the banks.
Clare Evans, defending, said Leroy was ‘not a one-man band,’ pointing out another man had been seen getting out of his car and taking mail from a post box.
Jailing Leroy, Recorder Nicholas Syfret QC told him: “Despite warning shots across your bow by reason of your arrest by the police in February 2016, it did not stop you behaving criminally.”