Atherton credit card fraudster's error

First published in North West

A CONWOMAN who helped steal £335,000 from Atherton garage customers could be “forced to sell a house ” to pay for her crimes.

After she was convicted for her role in an international credit card fraud in 2008, Nasima Esa disclosed that she owned a house in east London.

But prosecutors then made a “glaring error” in failing to mention the house at a hearing — and a judge ordered Esa to forfeit just £1.

The mistake only came to light when the 37-year-old, of Anson Street, Astley Bridge , was convicted in 2011 of falsely claiming £23,000 in benefits.

While trying to reclaim that cash from her, prosecutors noticed she owned the house and the credit card fraud case was re-examined.

At Bolton Crown Court Recorder Timothy Stead ruled a new proceeds of crime order will be made — and that it will be more than £1 in the original order.

Estate agents will now value the house in Woodman Street, North Woolwich, and Recorder Stead will decide at hearing on December 7 how much she will have to pay.

The London house is in the Royal Docks, close to the plush Royal Victoria Gardens, London City Airport and the banks of the River Thames. After the hearing, Esa said: “I’m not happy.”

Before 2008, she worked at a garage in Wigan Road, Atherton, and helped 11 fellow gang members clone credit cards so they were able to steal £334,000 from the bank acccounts of almost 1,000 people.

Shoppers at the BOC garage in Manchester Road, Bolton, were also hit by the scam.

Defence council Lee Speakman argued that it would be unfair to make Esa sell the home that she part-owns with her estranged husband because she disclosed the information when she was asked.

He also said Esa had been paying £650 a month off her £70,000 mortgage since 2008 and she would lose that cash, though the property attracts £750 a month in rent.

Mr Speakman added: “She could have spent that money on a holiday.”

Prosecution counsel Mr Ken Grant said: “Clearly, this was a glaring error, but it was an honest one.

“It might be said that the defendant was given a pleasant surprise when the £1 order was made.”

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