Former Lowestoft woman found guilty of £138,000 eBay fraud
A 28-year-old woman has been given a suspended prison sentence after being found guilty of a £138,000 fraud on eBay.
Yasmeen Usman, formerly of Carlton Road in Lowestoft, had denied dishonestly purchasing £35,000 worth of goods on eBay – and attempting to purchase a further £103,000 worth that weren't delivered – using a PayPal account in someone else's name, but was convicted of fraud by false representation by a jury following a week-long trial at Ipswich Crown Court in October.
Usman was sentenced at the crown court today, where she was handed a 12-month jail term suspended for two years.
She had been charged that between June 30 and July 15 2013 she had ordered 310 items with a total value of over £138,800 intending to make a gain for herself and causing a financial loss to PayPal who, along with eBay, had covered the losses incurred by sellers under their seller protection policy.
Suffolk Police detectives, based in Lowestoft, had begun an investigation after being contacted by eBay in July 2013.
On July 3 2013 a PayPal account holder was able to make 317 payments within a 12 hour period, totalling £117,000.
Initially 245 eBay sellers were impacted as five days later the payments all came back as failed because the account holder – an innocent party who was known to Usman – had cancelled their mandate after being alerted to suspicious activity on their account.
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In the meantime the products purchased had been shipped to Yasmeen Usman at an address in Carlton Road.
Police made enquiries with the Post Office sorting office who immediately recognised the address as, on one day, there had been 50 special delivery items to go to the property and a whole van had been needed to make the deliveries.
It was confirmed that the parcels had been signed for by a woman.
Officers went to the property and it appeared to be unoccupied and unfurnished apart from beds and mattresses. In a bin at the property was opened packaging from special and recorded deliveries, all addressed to Usman.
A sample of this packaging was sent for testing.
Enquiries with neighbours revealed that Usman and a man had moved into the address a few months earlier and that the property had then been cleared out around July 9.
Further investigation revealed she had left the country for Pakistan on July 12 2013. She was put out as wanted and on her arrival back in the country at Heathrow at the beginning of February 2015 she was arrested and collected by Suffolk officers who brought her back to the region for questioning.
By this stage police had a fingerprint hit from Usman on the packaging that had been seized and she was charged with fraud by false representation in March 2015.
Officer in the case DC Andrew Thawley said: 'I am very pleased that Usman has been brought to justice and the efforts of our investigation have been rewarded. I hope it sends a clear message that people who attempt to commit online fraud won't get away with it. I am also very grateful to the eBay Fraud Investigation Team for their assistance in this case.'
Usman is now likely to be subject to a Proceeds of Crime Act confiscation hearing as police seek to recover the loss from her through the courts. If granted, the order will mean that should Usman come into money or assets at a later date they can be claimed back up to this total.