Published: 00:01, 06 April 2017
The main organiser of a plot to smuggle illegal immigrants into the UK, who also ran a “crash for cash” insurance scam, has been jailed for 10 years.
Mohammed Sangak, 30, was said to have been part of a conspiracy involving 21 “staged or invented” accidents over a four-year period.
But prosecutor Edmund Fowler said the “crash for cash” scam was “just the tip of the iceberg”.
Insurance investigators eventually became suspicious of the pattern of claims that emerged.
Drivers from Ipswich in Suffolk were said to be having collisions with motorists from the Medway towns. Some involved crashes just weeks apart.
A couple of addresses that kept being cited by accident claimants were Fort Pitt Street in Chatham and Windsor Road in Gillingham.
Mr Fowler told a jury at Maidstone Crown Court several passengers - mostly Eastern Europeans - in vehicles claimed for whiplash injuries.
"He was a part of a network of fraudsters involved in fleecing insurance companies with bogus claims for damages following staged or invented accident" - Prosecutor Edmund Fowler
Insurance companies paid out thousands of pounds for vehicle damage, personal injury, medical costs and solicitors’ fees.
Sangak, of Goldcrest Drive, St Mary’s Island, Chatham, was just one of many involved.
Others included the director of a claims company from which Sangak, who has changed his name to Rameo Mohammed by deed poll, received most of his £452,000 share.
Over 700 documents including driving licences, passports, MOT certificates and insurance company letters relating to people involved in the fake collisions were found at his home.
“He was a part of a network of fraudsters involved in fleecing insurance companies with bogus claims for damages following staged or invented accidents,” said Mr Fowler.
“There was a wealth of documents in his possession for which there was no explanation. He was orchestrating paperwork and trying to keep the claims on track.”
Sangak appointed himself director of V&s corr Recovery, based in Chatham, in 2012 and through it received his share of the fraud payouts.
It was paid by two claims companies and was at odds with his tax returns.
One stated he ran a company called Nordic Recycling for which his profits were a little under £7,000. In another he claimed to run a barber’s called Magic Scissors, with an annual profit of £26,000.
“It was never declared to HMRC but represented the proceeds from these bogus claims,” said Mr Fowler.
Mustapha Hakme, defending, said Sangak left Iraq in 2001 when he was 14 because his life was in danger.
He made the long trip, lasting six months, to claim asylum and now has indefinite leave to remain.
“His trip fleeing war-torn countries was an astonishing one,” said Mr Hakme. “One cannot begin to imagine what he put himself through in order to get here.
“We see it on the news every day of the week. He was placed in foster care when he arrived.”
Sangak worked in various jobs before setting up a car sales business. He was a professional fitness model for bodybuilding.
He was distraught, said Mr Hakme, about the effect of his offending on his 10-year-old son.
“I ask that you impose a sentence that will enable him to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” he added.
Sangak denied conspiracy to defraud between December 15 2011 and April 1 2015, but was convicted.
He was jailed for two years for that offence and eight years consecutive for the facilitating conspiracy.
Judge Philip St John-Stevens said while Sangak was in the middle of the crash fraud, he was at the heart of the people smuggling conspiracy.
“It is clear to everyone that individuals trafficked into this country may well be, and often are, vulnerable and can be preyed upon by criminal organisations,” he said.
“Often the way they are conveyed into this country is fraught with danger - hidden behind cover loads that in itself is a dangerous enterprise.
“In addition to the position of vulnerability of the individual is the issue of national security.
“Given the present climate we live in, to facilitate individuals into this country who avoid border controls or official scrutiny has the potential of undermining, or at least compromising, national security, and the seriousness of that cannot be underplayed.
“You were responsible for overseeing the operation. You were a prime organiser. There was significant financial gain for yourself and there was a significant and sophisticated degree of planning given the numbers involved.”