Fraudster to face justice over theft of millions

Feezan Hameed Choudhary. Picture: Police Scotland
Feezan Hameed Choudhary. Picture: Police Scotland
1
Have your say

A £100 MILLION fraud kingpin who evaded capture after a Metropolitan Police-led raid on a private hire taxi in the Capital is set to be extradited to the UK after being arrested in Paris.

Feezan Hameed Choudhary is suspected of being behind an elaborate fraud which saw Edinburgh residents conned out of at least £1 million.

He escaped from police during an operation in Abbeyhill, which saw a private hire driver and a passenger arrested after London fraud squad officers swooped on the vehicle.

A manhunt was launched, and Choudhary was found in Paris last month after attempting to board a flight to Pakistan using a fake passport.

He has been held in the French capital since then, and an extradition warrant has now been issued to bring him back to the UK.

It is not yet known when Choudhary – who is from Glasgow but has links to the Capital – will arrive in England to face prosecution.

Police Scotland has been working with the Met and other police forces south of the Border to crack down on the fraud ring as part of Operation Falcon.

The raid in Montrose Terrace in October was one of a series of targeted operations across the country to bring the fraudsters to justice.

Residents of the Capital are among hundreds of victims of the ruthless scammers, who are suspected of stealing at least £60m in total.

A couple who run a farm in the Borders told the News last month that they were had lost “all trust” after falling foul of the scheme.

When the scam first came to light last summer, the gang was cold-calling people and telling them to ring back on the number on the back of their bank cards – but the crooks stayed on the line to record the card numbers.

They then started using an app which disguises where a call comes from. The scammer tells the victim they are from a bank and have detected fraud on their account and their cash needs to be moved to a secure account.

The Borders couple said they had lost a “five-figure sum” which they had been unable to recoup from their bank.

It is understood the scam has been so far-reaching that banks and building societies are struggling to refund victims.

The farmer’s wife said the scammers were “extremely plausible” and were very professional-sounding on the phone.

A spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Police said: “On Friday, November 13, Choudhary was detained at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, after attempting to fly to Pakistan on a fraudulent passport.

“He was subsequently arrested by French police officers on Thursday, November 19 on a European Arrest Warrant, issued by Westminster Magistrates’ Court.

“An extradition hearing took place in Paris on Wednesday, December 2, where his extradition to the UK was agreed. He will appear at a court in the UK on a date to be confirmed.”

kaye.nicolson@edinburghnews.com