A student who was the front man for a scam which cost a Lincoln firm over £40,000 has been jailed for 10 months at Lincoln Crown Court.
Quincy Ebanks withdrew £44,000 in cash from the account of the High Street firm Sykes Video Links only to be caught when he tried to remove a further £50,000 from the firm’s account.
Richard Thatcher, prosecuting on August 24, said that Ebanks went to the NatWest Bank branch on Newark Road, Lincoln, and handed a letter to the cashier claiming he was a representative of the company and was authorised to withdraw £24,000.
The cashier rang the telephone number for the company and the transaction was approved by a man she believed to be a director.
Three days later Ebanks returned to the same branch and withdraw a further £20,000 cash using the same method.
Mr Thatcher said that on this occasion there was doubt expressed about one of the signatories to the letter but the money was handed over after a further telephone call was made.
Police were contacted and when Ebanks went back for a third time requesting £50,000 cash he was told to wait.
Officers were called to the branch and he was arrested.
The prosecutor told the court that the telephone number for the company had been diverted by the fraudsters to a mobile phone which allowed them to impersonate company staff and approve the withdrawals.
Subsequent inquiries revealed that the man at the company that the bank staff believed they were talking to was out of the country at the time.
Mr Thatcher said: “The defendant was interviewed by the police. He claimed to be doing a favour for a friend but refused to name that individual.”
Ebanks, 24, of Harlesden, North London, admitted three charges of fraud between September 8 and 16, 2015.
Judge Michael Heath, passing sentence, told him: “Although you may not have been the organiser you nevertheless played an essential part in this fraudulent activity.
“It is obvious that this was a sophisticated fraud. A company has been targeted, phones diverted and staff impersonated.
“This offence is so serious that the only sentence I can justify is an immediate custodial sentence.”
Michael Cranmer-Brown, defending, said that Ebanks turned a blind eye to what was happening but he was not the organiser.
He said initially Ebanks thought that the money was being donated by a businessman who wanted to assist a community project he was setting up to help homeless people but later realised it was a scam.
Mr Cranmer-Brown added: “I would invite you to give him a chance and stay your hand from an immediate custodial sentence rather than throw him off the college course he is on and throw his life into further turmoil.”
He said Ebanks handed the money to other people and had not made any financial gain himself.