A 64-year old postal worker from Handsworth, Birmingham who stole cheque books from a sorting office in Birmingham resulting in over a £1million loss to a number of banks, has today been jailed for seven years after he was found guilty of conspiring to commit fraud.
Birmingham Crown Court heard how 64-year-old Paul Akuda was employed by Royal Mail at their central sorting depot at Mail Centre, St Stephens Street in Birmingham from November 2003 until his suspension on 26 May 2011.
In November 2010, the Royal Mail Investigations Department noted a spike in loss / theft of mail at this sorting depot and they immediately launched an internal investigation.
As a result of surveillance, they observed an employee taking post from an area of the depot, putting the stolen items into a carrier bag and leaving the depot. Subsequent enquiries identified the member of staff as the defendant - Paul Akuda.
The police were informed and Akuda was arrested. They recovered four stolen cheque books from his bag, two further cheque books from his work's locker and following a search of his property in Handsworth, the police discovered a further 38 cheque books.
Following a detailed investigation by the police, Royal Mail and the banks, it was estimated that between October 2010 and May 2011, in excess of 500 cheque books had been stolen over this period and Akuda was responsible for at least a proportion of this. Those cheque books that were stolen by the defendant were then used in fraud amounting to losses of £1.2 million.
He was charged with conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation.
Kerry Moreton, Senior Crown Prosecutor from West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service, said: "Paul Akuda abused his position of trust with the Royal Mail and began a campaign of dishonesty against his employers which resulted in innocent members of the public having their cheque books stolen and money taken out of their bank accounts.
"Over a seven month period, Akuda stole cheque books from the sorting depot where he worked and then sold these books onto third parties who would then use them in fraudulent transactions.
"Although his illegal activities resulted in losses of over a £1million to a number banks, there was no evidence to suggest that Akuda was more deeply involved in the frauds than acting as the original thief and supplier of the cheque books, but his actions were key to the whole enterprise and without which the rest of the fraud could not have taken place. It does appear, however, that he received minimal financial benefit for his role in the enterprise.
"Following an investigation by Royal Mail and the police, Akuda was observed carrying out his criminal activity and he was subsequently arrested and charged. Today he has been convicted for his part in this criminal enterprise."