(Image: MyLondon)

A court heard that Fezan Burki, an Uber driver from Stanford-le-Hope, Essex, gambled away £153,000 from another man’s bank account, using a cloned Coutts bank card to register with six different betting companies. The victim, Benjamin Fox, discovered the fraudulent transactions while abroad, realizing that his wife’s card had been cloned. The account was ultimately refunded in full after Coutts conducted an investigation.

Burki, a 35-year-old father of five, admitted to fraud by false representation and possessing articles for fraud. Police seized his phone on March 17, 2023, uncovering images of 15 other people’s bank cards, driving licenses, and passports. The defendant claimed that he resorted to the fraud to provide for his children.

Prosecutor Sonya Foxsmith revealed that although Coutts refunded £134,000, a loss of £47,000 remained, prompting ongoing financial investigations by the police. Defense counsel Lawrence Harris argued that the sole victim was Coutts Bank and emphasized Burki’s mental health, citing complex PTSD resulting from a knife attack in 2018, reported MyLondon.

The court learned that Burki had been subjected to a knife attack by his brother-in-law in November 2018, leading to complex PTSD, a breakdown of his marriage, and desperate measures to acquire money. Harris asserted that Burki was “out of his mind” during the fraud, driven by irrationality and a misguided attempt to provide for his children.

In an emotionally charged sentencing, Judge Rebecca Trowler KC considered the sophisticated nature of the fraud but deemed Burki’s mental health issues strong enough mitigation to avoid immediate imprisonment. She handed down a two-year suspended sentence, acknowledging the seriousness of the offenses but emphasizing the potential for rehabilitation due to a low risk of reoffending.

Burki’s family expressed relief in the public gallery as he walked free, and he received hugs upon leaving the Old Bailey. The court also ordered him to complete a 25-day rehabilitation activity requirement and pay a victim surcharge.

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