The bangles were manufactured to look like 22-carat gold
Three jewellers, Ibrar Hussain, aged 38, Sabhia Shaheen, aged 40, of Shiza Jewellers, and Mohammed Afsar, aged 47 of Zavier Jewellers, have all been jailed for a total of 14 years for masterminding a gold bangle scam.
On Wednesday, November 7, 2018, following a trial at Birmingham Crown Court, they were found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation.
Ibrar Hussain was sentenced to seven years in prison, Mohammed Afsar received four years in jail and Sabhia Shaheen was jailed for three years.
The three-person gang were selling fake gold allowing them to profit as much as £1 million over five years of their operation.
The gold bangles they were selling were made by them of a much lower quality compared to what they were falsely claiming it as to customers.
The bangles were manufactured to look like 22-carat gold by infilling them with other alloy metals including silver copper and then having a heavy gold plated finish on the outside.
The ringleader of the gang was Ibrar Hussain. He convinced innocent customers into buying the low-quality gold bangles at Shiza Jewellers based on Stratford Road, Birmingham.
He also sold them on eBay and travelled around the UK selling 14-carat bangles to other jewellers who did not suspect him.
Secret workshops were run by Hussain to produce the fake gold bangles.
Sabhia Shaheen also from Shiza Jewellers and Mohammed Afsar, known as ‘Malik’ of Zavier Jewellers also on Stratford Road, Birmingham, both joined Hussain in the manufacturing operation.
The three of them used houses in Bearwood and Handsworth in Birmingham to set-up the workshops inside them to make the jewellery.
For every set of fake gold bangles sold the trio were making an additional profit of £1,200.
Asfar blackmailed one of his workers at Zavier Jewellers after he found out. He made him work for free or endanger his family with violence.
Hussain also tried to silence witnesses and their families with violent threats during the trial at Birmingham Crown Court.
The illegal and fraudulent five-year operation of the gang was investigated by Birmingham Trading Standards under the code name Operation Egyptian.
Officers tested the gold bangle sets bought from both the shops which were being sold by the gang as 22-carat.
However, when tests were carried out by the Birmingham Assay Office, the results revealed the bangles were of much lower quality gold and some could be hallmarked only as 14 carats in gold.
Subsequently, raids were conducted at both jewellery stores by Birmingham Trading Standards officers.
Workshops being used to make the gold bangles on a large industrial scale were found and similarly, at the houses in Bearwood and Handsworth.
Evidence from the Birmingham Assay Office corroborated that the workshops were manufacturing the same bangles which were used for the tests they conducted.
This led to the arrest of Ibrar Hussain who was incidentally found by police officers hiding inside am ottoman storage bed. The other two were then arrested after Hussain.
The conclusion of the trial at Birmingham Crown Court found all three members of this gold bangles scam gang guilty.
Hussain was also found guilty of three counts of intimidating prosecution witnesses with threats of violence to them or their families, for which he received two years out of his total of seven years in jail.
In addition, Afsar was found guilty of blackmail after coercing one of the witnesses to work for him without pay under the threat of violence to his family. For this, he was given another four-year sentence to run concurrently with his other jail term of four years.
Shaheen was also disqualified from being a director for seven years.
After the case, a reaction from the chair of Birmingham City Council’s licensing and public protection committee, Councillor Barbara Dring, stated:
“I hope these sentences will send out a strong message that such unscrupulous behaviour will not be tolerated in Birmingham, where the jewellery trade quite rightly enjoys an excellent reputation, both nationally and internationally.”
“Where we are made aware of such illegal activities taking place, we will not hesitate to take action.”
Gold jewellery is a major aspect of British South Asian lifestyle. Especially for special occasions like weddings and birthdays.
So, these fake gold bangles made by this gang will have been of major interest to Asian customers who were duped into buying jewellery which was not really worth what they were sold.