Jailed: Conman who defrauded businesses of £2m

Alexander Wood and Muhammed Azhar. Picture: Metropolitan Police

Alexander Wood and Muhammed Azhar. Picture: Metropolitan Police - Credit: Metropolitan Police

A Camden conman who posed as a bank official to swindle three family-run businesses out of almost £2m was jailed for seven years on Thursday.

Alexander Wood, 36, of Royal College Street was jailed alongside Muhammed Azhar, 40 of Sewall Highway, Coventry.

Wood pleaded guilty to 11 counts of fraud and one of money laundering.

Wood used fake caller ID software to convince company accountants their networks were infected with the ‘Wannacry’ virus.

He then had them make large, allegedly offline, payments into accounts set up by Azhar, which were quickly withdrawn.

Det Ins Phil McInerney of the Specialist Cyber Crime Unit said: “Wood and Azhar carried out a series of despicable offences which have understandably had a devastating impact on their victims.

“They enjoyed luxury lifestyles, staying in five-star hotels, drinking champagne and being driven around in luxury cars at the expense of their victims.”

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In one recorded call, while on hold, Wood could be heard telling Azhar he would buy him a Rolex. Rolex watches were recovered alongside £10,000 in cash after the men were arrested on January 18 on Royal College Street.

The pair, who met in prison, operated their scam from a north west London house and targeted 12 UK businesses, one of which lost nearly £1.3m.

Police believe they chose their victims by searching for place names and the phrase ‘&sons’.

One victim said: “The day we had our money stolen was the day my world fell apart.

“I am totally distraught and feel totally conned and defrauded. I no longer trust anyone.”

Another said that their brother, who had provided the majority of the investment into the company, had been forced to re-mortgage his home and was hospitalised following a downward spiral of depression.

One affected business had to make 13 people redundant after the fraud.

Officer in the case Detective Constable Mary-Anne Dickson said that neither Wood or Azhar had demonstrated any remorse.

She said: “They are career fraudsters who are part of a larger network that we are currently closing in on. We will not rest until they are all brought to justice.”