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Bank plotters wrong-footed by alert staff
9:00am Friday 15th March 2013 in News
ALERT staff at a Worcester bank foiled a plot by three men to carry out a professionally-planned fraud against customers.
The men travelled to the city to obtain cash from Lloyds TSB branches at the Cross and in New Road, St John’s, Worcester.
Stolen cheques were paid in during May 2011 and a total of £9,240 obtained by taking advantage of immediate payments for cheques under £2,000, said Harpreet Sandhu, prosecuting. But staff at the Cross became suspicious and noted down the registration number of a car one defendant was spotted getting into.
The car was later stopped by police, who arrested Thomas Chivers, Simbarashe Monhlani and Wellington Mpakati, all from Birmingham.
Cash totalling £3,000 was found hidden in Mpakati’s waistband and Monhlani dropped bank receipts from his trousers, Worcester Crown Court was told. Chivers, aged 27, of Chirbury Grove, Monhlani, 25, of Jiggins Lane, and 38-year-old Mpakati, of Wetherfield Road, pleaded guilty to fraud and handling stolen goods.
Judge Michael Cullum said they had acted as a team for others further up the criminal chain. But he said their offences were “somewhat amateurish” and they had been brought to justice “due to the alertness” of bank staff.
Chivers and Mpakati were given eight months jail each, suspended for 18 months, and Monhlani was given 10 months, also suspended for 18 months.
Monhlani’s sentence was longer because he did not enter an early guilty plea. Chivers, who was already under a drug rehabilitation order, was also told to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work.
The cheques were stolen by others from people living in the West Midlands, some of whom were retired, said Mr Sandhu.
The cheques were banked and cash withdrawn because “they were instantly cleared if under £2,000,” he said. Chivers was filmed on CCTV depositing cheques at both branches.
On May 3, 2011, he withdrew £2,700 from the Cross branch but returned next day to pay in a cheque for £1,800. But by that time staff had become suspicious. Chivers had a record of 30 offences including dishonesty, drugs and weapon crime.
Monhlani’s 16 previous offences included fraud and handling stolen goods. Mpakati had 29 offences on his record including deception and possession of false identity documents.
Chivers had thrown away chances in the past but was now hoping to be employed as a building worker, said his counsel Makham Singh.
Charles Hamer, for Monhlani, said he had been held in custody for 97 days on an unconnected charge of conspiracy to rob, before the case was dropped. And Nick Berry, for Mpakati, accepted that the custody threshold had been passed because the bank crime had been professionally planned.