Crooked preacher at Leeds church jailed over cash-for-crash insurance scam

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A pastor from a Leeds church has been jailed for carrying out a "highly sophisticated" cash-for-crash insurance fraud.

Charles Motondo used details of two people in his local community and imitated them on the phone to insurers as part of the deception.

Charles Motondo.

Charles Motondo.

The 40-year-old - a preacher at Grace Faith Ministries in Leeds - was jailed for ten months.

Motondo stored one of the cars involved used in the scam behind the Pentecostal church in Cross Green where he regularly delivers sermons.

He pleaded guilty to three counts of fraud by false representation and one count of money laundering.

The offences involved false claims over car crashes in 2016 and were worth around £12,000.

Motondo, of Nowell Walk, Harehills, used the bank account of his partner Anette Ntumba to access illegally obtained sums of cash.

Ntumba also appeared in court alongside Motondo after pleading guilty to a separate offence of benefit fraud.

Leeds Crown Court heard Motondo took out insurance with Aviva on a Jaguar in June 2016.

Six days later he contacted the company reporting that he had collided with a Range Rover.

The company then received a call from the same mobile phone number from a man called 'Peter' who claimed to be the Range Rover driver.

The claim was assessed and £2,000 was transferred into a bank account held by Ntumba.

A similar offence was carried out a month later against Mulsanne Insurance involving the same two vehicles.

This time a man identifying himself as 'Charles' made the insurance claim. A sum of over £8,000 was paid out.

The deception came to light in October 2016 when Motondo told First Central insurance company that he had crashed his Vauxhall Corsa into a parked Range Rover and took full responsibility.

The parked car belonged to Motondo, who subsequently contacted First Central, this time as himself, and made a claim for the damage and the cost of a hire vehicle.

A forensic engineer stated that the Corsa could not have caused the alleged damage to the Range Rover, due to the height difference of the two cars.

It was further revealed that the damage caused was the same as on the Range Rover’s most recent MOT failure.

Sentencing Motondo, Judge Tom Bayliss, QC, said: "These offences were highly sophisticated and involved significant planning.

"Those, Mr Motondo, who engage in sophisticated frauds with insurance companies must expect to go to prison.

"And to prison, I am afraid, you must go.

"Deterrent sentences are necessary for insurance frauds of this nature."

Ntumba, 43, pleaded guilty to one offence of benefit fraud committed over a 24-week period in 2015.

She illegally obtained £1,810 after claiming to be unemployed despite working as a cleaner.

She was ordered to do 100 hours of unpaid work. Judge Bayliss told her: "It was a brazen fraud."

Motondo came to the UK from the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2005 as an asylum seeker before being granted leave to remain in the country.

His partner came from the UK from the same country in 2006.

The court heard Motondo and his partner are currently claiming universal credit.

Michael Collins, for Motondo, said he had served as a pastor for 12 years.

Mr Collins said his client worked closely with councillors and members of parliament to help his local community.

The barrister said Motondo was also involved in a project to make young people aware of the dangers of knife crime, drink and drugs.

Detective Constable Jamie Kirk, who the led the investigation for the City of London Police's Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department, said: “Motondo was completely immoral in his

actions, and had no issues using other people’s personal details to make fraudulent claims so that he could make a financial gain.

“Motondo may have thought a person of his standing wouldn’t get questioned by insurers or the police, but today’s conviction shows that nobody is above the law and that anyone who

commit insurance fraud will be brought to justice.”