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UK court warns Indian conman of longer jail term

Mohammed Umar Ashrafi, serving a nine-year jail term for defrauding vulnerable people from the Asian community in Leicester, London and Canada, has been warned to reveal where he has hidden his wealth or face five more years in prison.

world Updated: Dec 14, 2015 19:52 IST
Judge who sentenced Ashrafi in February said the £650,000 he had cheated his victims of, included £50,000 from blackmail while the rest was from 15 frauds.
Judge who sentenced Ashrafi in February said the £650,000 he had cheated his victims of, included £50,000 from blackmail while the rest was from 15 frauds.(Leicester police)

Mohammed Umar Ashrafi, serving a nine-year jail term for defrauding vulnerable people from the Asian community in Leicester, London and Canada, has been warned to reveal where he has hidden his wealth or face five more years in prison.

In the first case of its kind involving a “faith healer”, 50-year-old Ashrafi, an Indian citizen who called himself “Kamalji”, was jailed earlier this year after the Leicester Crown Court found him guilty of several counts of fraud and blackmail.

In the latest hearing related to “proceeds of crime” in the widely followed case, Judge Robert Brown, who sentenced Ashrafi in February, said the £650,000 he had cheated his victims of, included £50,000 from blackmail while the rest was from 15 frauds.

Brown said he believed Ashrafi had hidden assets created from the £650,000: “He has not provided a statement and declined to give evidence. He knows, because it has been explained to him, that the onus is on him to satisfy me that he does not have hidden assets. Because of this, the only sensible logical explanation is that he has secreted money elsewhere.”

The judge told Ashrafi that if he did not declare the missing cash within six months, an extra five years will be added to the nine-year sentence already given, reports from Leicester said.

Sachdev Virdee, general secretary of the Asian Rationalist Society Britain, told Hindustan Times: “My appeal to our community is that we are living in the 21st century: a century of logic and reason. We should be able to know and understand what is right and wrong and benefit from the power of reason and logic, safeguarding ourselves from falling victims to such fraudulent faith healers.”

Leicester police launched an investigation in April 2014 after a victim disclosed how Ashrafi had posed as Kamalji, supposedly a devotee of Sai Baba, and claimed he could rid people of their problems.

During the investigation, several victims were found to have been duped by Ashrafi after they enlisted his services and handed over large amounts of cash. He used various items such as audio recordings of a voice claiming to be Sai Baba to gain the victims’ confidence and trust before taking tens of thousands of pounds from them.