A TEACHER used a redundant Islamic school as a front for a £1.7m mortgage fraud.
Syed Shah repeatedly lied on application forms for mortgages on 10 properties he bought over a six year period in Leeds.
Leeds Crown Court heard Shah, 45, told mortgage companies that the Muslim Educational Centre on Boundary Farm Road in Moor Allerton was his employer.
He obtained loans totalling £1.77 million.
Letters from lenders addressed to the centre were re-directed to Shah and he filled them in, giving false information about his income in order to get mortgages.
But the court was told the Muslim Educational Centre is un-used and derelict, with no evidence it is an active organisation.
Father-of-six Shah was yesterday jailed for five years and eight months after he pleaded guilty to three charges of fraud and three counts of obtaining money transfers by deception.
Prosecutor, Jonathan Sharp said Shah’s family were on benefits of around £13,000 a year and he told the Inland Revenue he earned a maximum of £3,380 a year while the scam was under way between 2003 and 2009.
Mr Sharp said Shah set bank accounts up in advance of the frauds using used multiple aliases and would later use the false names to apply for mortgages.
Mr Sharp added: “By the use of multiple aliases he has also been able to extract a large amount of cash from properties before allowing properties to be repossessed.”
He told the court: “The main purpose of the Muslim Educational Centre was, in fact, to facilitate Shah’s fraudulent applications for mortgage finance.
“He repeatedly quoted the centre as being his employer, or the employer of others.”
Prosecutors say Shah made more than £390,000 profit from the scams and lenders lost just under £450,000.
Shah’s lawyer Ricky Holland told the court the Muslim Educational Centre was set up as a proper teaching institution, but had fallen in to disrepair.
He said: “There is nothing like that amount of money to be had in being an Islamic teacher, that is the defendant’s occupation. His fall from grace within his own community as an Islamic teacher has been considerable.”
Mr Holland said Shah, of Barkerend Road, Bradford, believed he had profited by £150,000 from the frauds.
Jailing Shah, the Recorder of Leeds Judge Peter Collier QC told him it was a “calculated and sophisticated” fraud, adding: “It involved considerable planning in advance. You created bogus identities, invested those people with bank accounts into which you money, sometimes many months in advance.
A West Yorkshire Police Spokesman said: “The police have spent over two years investigating this matter. Mr Shah has systematically defrauded financial institutions.”
BY Mark Lavery