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Gang jailed over uni scam
Five men who attempted to steal more than £2million from the University of Sussex have been jailed.
The conmen – including a solicitor – contacted the university and posed as employees of a legitimate Manchester construction firm which had been chosen to carry out work on new student accommodation.
They falsely told bosses at the university they were owed the £2m-plus for work on new student accommodation.
In October 2010 the university fell for the gang’s claims and paid their false invoice which was created electronically using letterheads.
They put money into a bank account called Balecourt Ltd controlled by the gang’s ringleader, Gurdip Singh, 37, of Leicester.
East Midlands Special Operations Unit became suspicious and the account was frozen a few days after the money had been received. But the gang managed to get £20,000 out.
Also involved in the crime were Singh’s business partner Hamel Bakrania, 36, of Leicester, Dennis Francis, 50, of Loughborough, Innocent Ohazurume, 50, of Lon- don, and Andrew Wormstone, 43, of Pontefract, West Yorkshire.
Singh, Bakrania, Francis, Wormstone and Ohuzurume were charged with arranging to launder the money stolen from the university.
Singh pleaded guilty to the charges and was jailed for three years and ten months on Friday.
The others denied the count but were convicted.
Bakrania was jailed for three-and-a-half years, while Francis and Ohazurume were each sentenced to three years in prison. Wormstone was jailed for two-and-a-half years.
Detective Constable Nigel Tillings, of Sussex Police, said: “Offenders in these types of offences will always be looking for assistance from others in moving the stolen money and also to distance themselves from the offence.
"If successful, then these persons would have received payment for their part, but in this case they have been caught.”
A University of Sussex spokesman said: “The diversion of the funds was identified shortly after it took place and money was restored to the University accounts.”
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