"fraud affects us all and costs TfL more than £100m a year"
Two men have been jailed for their roles in scams selling illegal Oyster cards on social media.
Anjum Ali Saiyad, aged 22, of Marlborough Road, London, was jailed for 12 months. He pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation at Westminister Magistrates’ Court.
Saiyad’s crimes came to light in January 2019 after a woman was stopped by a Transport for London (TfL) bus revenue inspector for using a fraudulently obtained concessionary Oyster card in London.
The woman supplied officers with the bank details of the person she had bought the card from on social media. It was traced back to Saiyad.
His phone revealed details of those purchasing the cards, while his bank records indicated he had made £12,657.50 from the scam.
In a similar case, Mohammed Essa, aged 20, of Southwark, made nearly £44,000 from applying for 16+ Oyster cards on behalf of members of the public who contacted him on social media and paid money into his bank account.
He first came to the attention of authorities when TfL staff were catching adults using the cards for discount journeys. As a result, they gathered vital intelligence.
People aged between 16 and 18 are eligible to use the discounted cards.
The authorities traced Essa partially due to his social media adverts.
A search of his bank records found he had earned £43,763. When questioned by police, Essa had no legitimate reason for the money.
He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud TfL and was sentenced to two years in prison, suspended for two years. Essa was also ordered to do 200 hours of community service.
The sale of illegal Oyster cards is estimated to have cost TfL around £2 million.
My London reported that TfL has, so far, prosecuted over 550 people caught with fraudulently obtained Oyster cards. They will continue to crack down on anyone travelling without a valid ticket.
Richard Mullings, head of counter-fraud and corruption at TfL, said:
“Fare evasion and fraud affects us all and costs TfL more than £100m a year, money that should be reinvested in our transport network.
“We adopt a zero-tolerance approach to any fraud and we are committed to stopping illegal activity by those who seek to exploit the system.
“Oyster fraud like this is rare and we have robust controls in place to prevent and detect it.”
“Working with the BTP, we push for the strongest possible sentences for those who break the law and we hope these sentencings send a strong message to anyone who thinks it’s acceptable to cheat the system for personal gain.”
Detective Constable Jonathan Butterwick, of the British Transport Police, said:
“This isn’t a case of people innocently gaming the system – Essa, Saiyad or the people who bought these cards.
“Everyone involved is committing fraud, and it’s very important anyone considering buying an illicit card is aware they’re committing a criminal offence.
“It’s also important to note that the victim here isn’t just TfL, it’s the passengers who legally use the Underground every day, and through buying tickets invest in the upkeep and safety of the London rail network.
“They’re effectively being short-changed by other passengers not willing to pay their part.”