Serious Fraud Office
SFO intercepts funds from sanctioned bank to return to international fraud victims
The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) will recover over £500,000 for the victims of a worldwide email fraud, after freezing money bound for a sanctioned Lebanese bank and securing High Court approval to use the unique case to trial a new approach to victim reparation.
The money was stolen from victims through a scam orchestrated by Abdallah Ali Jammal in 2002, by which unsolicited emails appeared 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 victims lost tens of thousands of pounds to the scam.
In 2021, having determined that Mr Jammal – who fled the country before charge – could not realistically be convicted, the SFO decided that the case’s unique circumstances merited an attempt at an alternative approach to recovering money for victims. Mr Jammal’s accounts were frozen, including over £150,000 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 has identified a number of victims of the fraud and, working alongside the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, Australian Federal Police and European authorities, will seek 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.
Lisa Osofsky, Director of the Serious Fraud Office, recently said:
“Obtaining justice for victims motivates everything we do. Today, in a pioneering interpretation of the law, we have secured the green light to find Mr Jammal’s victims and, working with our international partners, claim back for them the money they lost.”
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