County lines drug gang hacked young mother’s PC and tracked her to a hotel before carrying out knife raid on her family home and claiming to have kidnapped her son when she got cold feet about laundering cash for them
Two county lines drug gang members have been jailed for hunting down a mother and claiming her son had been kidnapped for ransom before carrying out a knife raid on her relative’s home.
Gullaid Ibrahim, 27, of Pimlico, and Adam Nur, 23, of White City, were each jailed for six years for hunting down the young mother, in her 20s, after she got cold feet about laundering money for them.
The woman, in her 20s, answered an advert on Snapchat about earning extra money before being told she would be paid to launder money for criminals operating a county lines operation called the ‘Sergio line’.
Luton Crown Court heard the woman’s ordeal began in October last year after she responded to an advert on Snapchat asking if she wanted to earn some money.
She was told she would receive a £6,000 payment into her account, from which she would take a cut.
But within days, the woman started receiving phone calls and texts threatening her and her family over the money. The woman checked herself into a hotel in London – but Ibrahim and an associate managed to find her from her booking reference after they got 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 the woman’s computer and tracking her to the hotel room she was hiding in after she responded to their advert about earning extra money
They attempted to force their way into her room and were only blocked from doing so by her boyfriend. Hotel staff ejected the men before police arrived.
Officers moved the victim to a secure location, while she also disposed of her phone over fears it was being tracked.
A few days later, men armed with knives turned up at the woman’s address in London looking for her. On that same day, the gang’s search also brought them to Bedford where a scooter was thrown through a window of the house where the woman used to live.
They also attempted to get inside a family member’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 pushed their way into the home of another family member, whose children were at the address at the time, and demanded to know where the woman was.
One of the men was carrying a knife and said that they would hurt the victim at this address if they did not settle the £35,000 debt they claimed was owed to them by the original woman.
Detectives have since issued a warning around ‘deets and squares’ operations where people are approached online and paid to help move money.
Detective Inspector Dale Mepstead, from the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit (MCU), said: ‘Ibrahim and Nur would stop at nothing to recover the money they claim had been taken.
‘The fact they brought completely innocent women and young children into this makes their crimes even more despicable. Their actions show a complete absence of morals and decency.
The pair also stormed a home of some of the woman’s relatives in Bedford, held them at knifepoint and threatened to harm them if they didn’t pay £35,000. Pictured: Gullaid Ibrahim in CCTV footage while tracking the victim
‘These people are out there online, on social media and messaging platforms that thousands of young people use every day, looking to recruit people to help them move their money.
‘This case demonstrates the scary consequences that might await anyone who gets involved with these schemes. The chance to make a bit of money could cause untold fear and terror for your friends and family – or even worse..’
The woman’s ex-partner alerted police after being harassed by the criminals and officers analysed call records and linked them back to Nur and Ibrahim.
Police later arrested Ibrahim at an address in south London. He was arrested holding a phone which had been used to call the ex-partner.
Nur was arrested while driving a car in west London shortly afterwards. A sim card was in his pocket which had also been used to call the ex-partner, while a handset was also found in the rear of the vehicle with his DNA on it.
Ibrahim and Nur were both found guilty of two counts of conspiracy to blackmail after a trial. Nur was given an extra month on top of his sentence for breaching a restraining order.
Both men were also issued with five year restraining orders preventing them from contacting their victims.
Judge Lynn Tayton QC told them: ‘Your actions had long term, if not permanent, psychological effect on the victims. They have been left paranoid and this has taken a toll on their personal lives.
‘I am satisfied that both of you were equally involved in carrying out these threats.
‘The particular aggravated features are the planned and persistent way you hunted the victim and when you couldn’t reach her, you resorted to threats designed to terrify the victim’s son and ex-partner.’
Bedfordshire’s Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit (VERU) raises the issue of ‘deets and squares’ in its work with young people, having seen cases of this in the county linked to child criminal exploitation.
The VERU’s youth intervention specialist (YIS) team coordinator, Tasha Case, said: ‘Young people up and down the country are becoming more vulnerable to this type of crime.
‘I know this can be tempting, especially if money is hard to come by. However, if you get involved in this you risk a prison sentence yourself, ruining your credit history or even worse.
‘If anyone approaches you – as glamorous as it may appear, as exciting as it may seem – you need to say no and talk to someone you trust.
‘We can only tackle this if we work together and support each other.’