Bank worker is jailed for plot to steal more than PS270,000.
A COVENTRY bank employee took part in a sophisticated plot to steal more than PS270,000 from the accounts of dead customers by falsely registering an accomplice as the executor.
Ravi Dubede was working at the Barclays Bereavement Services Centre in Coventry. The money was initially transferred to the accounts of two men - one from West Bromwich and one from Oxford - and was then subjected to numerous moneylaundering transactions. The offences came to light after the genuine executors of the wills contacted Barclays.
And at Warwick Crown Court, Dubede, aged 32, of Nuffield Road, Foleshill, was jailed for two-and-a-half years after pleading guilty to two charges of conspiracy to steal.
Troy Phillips, aged 44, of West Bromwich, and Kyle Wilson, 33, of Oxford, who were falsely put forward as the executors of the two customers' wills, were both jailed for 21 months.
They, along with twins Pawel and Lukasz Pyszczek and Mateusz Bazanek, had all pleaded guilty to transferring criminal property, while Sanjeev Sharma was found guilty of that charge after a trial. Sharma, aged 36, of Newcastle-on-Tyne, was jailed for 28 months, Pawel Pyszczek, aged 31, of Oxford, was jailed for nine months; Lukasz, of the same address, for seven months; and Bazanek, aged 30, who shared the house with them, for six months.
Dubede's barrister told the court he had taken part in the theft conspiracy out of a desire to help his family in India after they had been threatened.
Jailing all seven defendants, Judge Andrew Lockhart QC told Dubede: "Public confidence in the banking system will be shaken by events such as this.
"This was a long course of offending targeted against those who were in a state of bereavement; and you Mr Dubede were the person at the very heart of it.
"The message must go out that people who engage in conduct like this must go to custody."
Prosecutor Ben Close said an elderly Barclays customer died in December 2012, having made a will leaving her estate to various charities and relatives, one of whom sent a copy of the death certificate to the bank.
In February the following year Dubede, who worked at the bank's Bereavement Services Centre on the Westwood Business Park, accessed the account to make an authorised repayment to the Department for Work and Pensions.
But he then changed the address on the account to that of Wilson; and in April the bank received a letter containing a false will and a forged grant of probate naming Wilson as sole executor.
The PS112,248 balance from the woman's account was transferred into Wilson's account, before he immediately transferred it to another account. The person who had actually been granted probate later contacted the bank to question why she had not received the funds - only to be told the accounts had been closed.
Another Barclays customer, a 90-year-old man, also died in 2012, and in April 2013 Dubede was involved in a legitimate task in relation to his pension payments. But a letter was then sent to Barclays purporting to be from Phillips, providing false documents indicating he was the sole executor of the man's estate.
That was followed by a false grant of probate, resulting in the PS162,923 balance in the man's accounts being transferred into an account in Phillips' name.
Judge Lockhart pointed out that two other men said to have been involved, and with whom Sharma has connections, are in India.