Author: Zulfi Meerza 21 July 2023
Zulfi Meerza details how the Serious Fraud Office took a novel approach to ensure international fraud victims regain their money.
The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is set to recover over £500,000 for victims of a worldwide email fraud after freezing money bound for a sanctioned Lebanese bank, on the basis that the money was recoverable property. It is the first time the agency has taken such a course of action, in what is a new approach to victim reparation.
The money was stolen from victims through a scam orchestrated by Abdallah Ali Jammal in 2002. It involved unsolicited emails appearing in people’s inboxes, falsely claiming to need their help to release substantial sums of money from countries including Nigeria and promising a commission in return. Many individuals lost tens of thousands of pounds to Jammal’s scheme.
Jammal fled the UK before he was charged with any offence. Two years ago, having concluded that a conviction could not realistically be obtained, the SFO decided to pursue a novel approach to recovering assets for the victims. Jammal’s accounts were frozen, including over £150,000 that was bound for the family-controlled Jammal Trust Bank in Lebanon, which remains sanctioned by the US for facilitating banking for a terrorist organisation.
The SFO worked with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, Australian Federal Police and European authorities to trace the stolen funds back to each of the known victims’ own accounts. It is expected each victim will recover approximately what was stolen from them in 2002.
The matter will be heard before the King’s Bench Division of the High Court in six months’ time, where the SFO will present the claims on behalf of victims.
Senior Associate Solicitor
Zulfi’s in-depth expertise in corporate crime investigations, serious regulatory matters and complex commercial litigation makes him a logical choice to represent corporates, board members, senior business figures and high net worth individuals.