Corner shop conmen cheat Gloucester customers out of £50K
A JUDGE has questioned how two immigrant "overstayers" were able to set up a corner shop – and then cheat their customers out of almost £50,000.
Syed Bukhari, 25, and Siyed Asem, 58, both of Barton Street, Gloucester, pleaded guilty at Gloucester Crown Court to defrauding customers who asked them to transfer money to people in India and Bangladesh.
The court heard the two men were running a shop in Barton street when they offered the money transfer service to customers with relatives in the Indian sub-continent.
Bukhari admitted 11 offences of fraud between January and March this year after he made false representations to customers that his money transfer business was in a sound financial position and money would be transferred at a preferential rate of exchange.
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Asem admitted 12 similar charges.
Lisa Hennessy, prosecuting, said Bukhari was responsible for £33,688 of the total fraud and Asem £14,518.
"They ran a corner shop," she said. "One person paid over two sums of £5,000 – a total of £10,000 – and has lost it."
Judge Jamie Tabor QC asked "Where has all the money gone?"
"There is none left," said Mrs Hennessy. "We say their total criminal benefit was £51,000 but they have no assets left. The money has been used to keep the cashflow going in the shop. Everything seems to have been fine between last October and January when money was being transferred. But from January on it starts to fall apart and it is clear that the money has been used to keep things going and they have spent it.
"There doesn't appear to be any money left. £50,000 has gone in two and a half months."
Sabhia Pathan, defending, said Asem – who was assisted in court by an Urdu interpreter – has already been declared bankrupt.
"Both men are overstayers and both have been served with deportation papers," she said. "Mr Asem has significant health difficulties."
Judge Tabor commented: "That's why he came to this country in the first place."
The judge said he would want to know how the two men were able to set up a corner shop if they were overstayers and had no legal status.
The judge remanded Bukhari in custody and Asem on bail for pre-sentence reports. But he warned them both to expect prison sentences when they return to court on August 10.