A fraudster from Luton, involved in a £1.8 million scam, who skipped bail and fled the UK has been jailed for five years.
Olanrewaju Bolaji Otukoya, 53, of Cresswell Gardens, was sentenced at the Old Bailey, on Friday, October 12, following an operation led by the Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit (DCPCU).
Otukoya headed up the Luton-based gang that committed £1.8 million of fraud by intercepting cheques in the post that were intended for local businesses.
He failed to answer his police bail in July 2014 and absconded to Nigeria.
Since then the DCPCU have worked with the Nigerian authorities to trace him and extradite him back to the UK. The extradition was finally approved by the Nigerian courts in April this year.
Otukoya, who has several previous convictions for fraud, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud users of Royal Mail Postal Services.
Two other members of the gang, Moshin Abbas and Anjam Shah, both from Luton, were recruited by Otukoya to abuse their positions as workers at a Royal Mail sorting office by stealing post containing cheques destined for local companies.
The intercepted cheques, worth over £1.8 million in total, were then paid into business bank accounts that were set up and controlled by Otukoya, using similar names as the target company.
Abbas and Shah were sentenced in 2016 to four years and five year and three months imprisonment respectively.
Detective Constable Jeremy Boxall, who is currently the lead officer on the case for the DCPCU, said: “Otukoya played a leading role in committing large-scale fraud against local businesses and then tried to escape punishment by fleeing abroad.
“Now, thanks to close cooperation between the British and Nigerian authorities, he is facing justice back in the UK.
“This sends a strong message to others considering following a similar path – you will be caught and punished.”
The gang of fraudsters was identified through a joint investigation by the Royal Mail and the DCPCU - the police unit sponsored by the banking industry and made up of officers from the City of London Police and the Metropolitan Police Service, bank investigators and support staff from UK Finance.
All the victims of the scam were refunded.