Fraudster jailed for five years after stealing over £80k from Aylesbury Vale travel company in 'sophisticated' scam
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Sohan Basu, 52, of Britannia Road North in Portsmouth, was sentenced at Portsmouth Crown Court on Friday (March 19).
He was found guilty of two counts of fraud by abuse of position, two counts of fraud by false representation and two counts of theft following a trial at the same court.
Basu was employed as an IT accounts manager at Prestige Promotions Ltd, based in Ivinghoe Aston near Aylesbury, between 2010 and 2018.
Investigating officer Detective Constable James Lacey, of Aylesbury CID, said: “Sohan Basu held a position of ultimate trust involving access to the bank accounts of the small company at which he worked.
“Instead of upholding his responsibility to safeguard the interests of the company, he exploited and abused this position for his own criminal purpose.
“In addition to theft from the business, a quantity of funds stolen by Basu were from a charity established by his employer to provide an education to children in underprivileged regions of Africa.
“Basu’s fraud was premeditated, planned and sophisticated. He continued to steal from the business during the Covid-19 pandemic, a time when he would have known that his ex-employer – a travel company – would not be generating any income.
“I am pleased the jury have convicted him of these charges. I would also like to commend the victim for his bravery in not only giving evidence, but also for travelling to Portsmouth and reading his victim impact statement to the court in person during Friday’s sentencing hearing, where he described the devastating impact of Basu’s crimes.”In the summer of 2018, the company director, a man aged in his 60s, noticed a number of outgoings from his company bank account that he did not recognise.
These were labelled as being his own expenses despite having never paid them to himself.
After reporting the activity to police, an investigation was launched by Aylesbury CID which revealed that these funds, totalling over £45,000, had been transferred into two bank accounts in the victim’s name.
Officers discovered that these accounts had been set up by Basu using the victim’s own identity so as to try and divert suspicion. He then used ATMs to withdraw tens of thousands of pounds from the accounts.
Cheques to the value of tens of thousands of pounds were also found to have been stolen from company property and deposited into accounts in names the victim did not recognise – all of which were fake identities set up by Basu.
Despite being arrested in connection with these offences in March 2019, Basu continued to offend against the same victim.
In 2020, the victim began receiving parking fines and notices of prosecution for traffic offences involving a vehicle he knew nothing about.
Further investigation revealed Basu had registered a vehicle with the DVLA in the name of the victim, and had also set up a direct debit using his bank details to pay the insurance policy.
In total, Basu was convicted of fraud amounting to over £81,000. A substantial amount of the stolen funds had been spent on gambling.
Giving evidence in court, the company director said he had always trusted Basu “implicitly” and had felt completely “under siege” at his hands when the crimes were discovered.
DC Lacey added: “In additional to traditional methods, much of Basu’s criminal activity was carried out online and digital evidence was a key feature in this investigation. I would urge anyone who is considering committing fraudulent online activity to think twice.
“The message to anyone engaging in online fraud and cybercrime is clear – you are not undetectable. As technology improves, so does our ability to investigate it, and the net is closing in on people who use the internet to commit this type of activity.”