Two members of a drug gang in the province have been jailed for hunting a mother and claiming her son had been kidnapped for ransom before carrying out a knife attack at her relative’s home.
Gullaid Ibrahim, 27, of Pimlico, and Adam Nur, 23, of White City, each received six years in prison for tracking down the young mother, in her 20s, after she developed cold feet about money laundering for them.
The woman, in her twenties, answered an ad on Snapchat about making extra money before being told she would be paid to launder money for criminals running a County Line operation called the “Sergio Line.”
Luton Crown Court learned the woman’s ordeal began last October after she responded to a Snapchat ad asking if she wanted to make some money.
She was told she would get a £6,000 deposit into her account, which she would cut back.
But within days, the woman received calls and texts threatening her and her family over the money. The woman checked herself into a London hotel, but Ibrahim and a staff member managed to find her through her booking reference after gaining access to her online accounts.
Gullaid Ibrahim (pictured), 27, of Pimlico, and Adam Nur, 23, of White City, were each jailed for six years for hacking into the woman’s computer and following her to the hotel room she hid in after she responded to their ad about making extra money
They tried to break into her room and were only blocked by her boyfriend. Hotel staff evicted the men before police arrived.
Officers took the victim to a safe location, while she also tossed her phone away for fear of it being tracked.
A few days later, men armed with knives turned up at the woman’s London address in search of her. That same day, the gang’s search also took them to Bedford, where a scooter was thrown through a window of the house where the woman used to live.
They also attempted to enter a relative’s address by pretending to be from the police before attempting to blackmail the woman’s ex-partner. They called him and lied that they had kidnapped their young son and demanded £8,000 for his return.
In a separate incident in Bedford, three men broke into the home of another relative, whose children were at the address at the time, and demanded to know where the woman was.
One of the men carried a knife and said they would hurt the victim at this address if they failed to settle the £35,000 debt they believed was owed to them by the original woman.
Detectives have since warned of “deets and squares” operations where people are approached and paid online to help move money.
Detective Inspector Dale Mepstead, of the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit (MCU), said: ‘Ibrahim and Nur would do anything to get back the money they claim was stolen.
“The fact that they have involved completely innocent women and young children in this makes their crimes even more despicable. Their actions show a complete absence of morality and decency.
The pair also stormed a home of some of the woman’s relatives in Bedford, held them with a knife and threatened to harm them if they didn’t pay £35,000. Pictured: Gullaid Ibrahim in CCTV footage following the victim
“These people are online, on social media and messaging platforms that thousands of young people use every day, looking for people to help them move their money.
“This case shows the terrifying consequences that await anyone involved in these plans. The chance to make some money can cause untold fear and terror for your friends and family – or worse…’
The woman’s ex-partner alerted police after she was harassed by the criminals, and officers analyzed the call records and linked them back to Nur and Ibrahim.
Police later arrested Ibrahim at an address in South London. He was arrested with a phone that had been used to call the ex-partner.
Nur was arrested shortly afterwards while driving a car in West London. In his pocket was a SIM card that also called the ex-partner, while a handset was found in the back of the car with his DNA on it.
Ibrahim and Nur were both found guilty of two charges of conspiracy to blackmail after a trial. Nur was given an extra month on top of his sentence for violating a restraining order.
Both men were also given a five-year restraining order preventing them from contacting their victims.
Judge Lynn Tayton, QC, told them: ‘Your actions had a long-lasting, if not permanent, psychological effect on the victims. They have become paranoid and this has had a negative impact on their personal lives.
“I am convinced that you were both equally involved in carrying out these threats.
“The particularly aggravating features are the planned and persistent way you hunted the victim and when you couldn’t reach her, you resorted to threats designed to intimidate the victim’s son and ex-partner.”
Bedfordshire’s Unit for Reduction of Violence and Exploitation (VERU) raises the issue of ‘deets and squares’ in its work with young people, as cases have been seen in the county linked to criminal exploitation of children.
Tasha Case, the Youth Intervention Specialist (YIS) team coordinator, said: “Young people across the country are becoming more vulnerable to this type of crime.
“I know this can be tempting, especially when money is hard to come by. However, if you meddle in this, you risk jail time, ruin your credit history or worse.
“If someone approaches you – as glamorous as it may seem, as exciting as it may seem – you should say no and talk to someone you trust.
‘We can only tackle this if we work together and support each other.’