Man found with 11 fake driving licenses on M60 – and 160 more at home – played role in £ 250k O2 scam


A ‘troubled businessman’ has been found with dozens of fake driving licenses used in a ‘sophisticated’ mobile scam, which has seen O2 defraud more than £ 250,000.

Edward Barker traveled more than 200 miles from Essex and used the fake IDs to retrieve iPhones and iPads ordered on behalf of unsuspecting customers from O2 stores in the northwest.

The 21-year-old from Chelmsford was arrested on the M60 last December after his car activated a police ANPR camera Nicholas Hamilton, Manchester Crown Court prosecutors have told.

Inside, officers found 11 fake driver’s licenses, several of which had his photo but details of other people.

There were also five cell phones, all of which had been collected from different O2 stores.

An investigation revealed that these were new contracts or upgrades ordered by someone online on behalf of existing O2 customers.

“The details were used to effectively start new O2 contracts or to improve existing contracts,” said Mr. Hamilton.

Barker then used the fake licenses found in his car to trick staff into believing he was the customer when he picked up the devices from stores in Ashton, Bury, Bootle, Aintree and Chester, it was said. to the court.

A search of his home the next day revealed an additional 160 fake permits, some with Barker’s photo, and 23 fake bank cards.

These also contained details of existing O2 customers and there was evidence that they had also been used for similar frauds involving iPhones and iPads.

However, Mr Hamilton said the prosecution could only say that Barker used the licenses found in his car.

It was not clear exactly how customer details had been compromised and by whom, Mr Hamilton said.

However, many customers would have ignored the fact that they were paying for devices they had never ordered and never received.

“Those who diligently check their bank statements might have seen that an iPhone or iPad had been ordered and the amount had passed.

“However, those who weren’t as diligent, especially as bills differ each month based on usage, may not have realized that they had been victims of fraud.”

The total loss for O2 was around £ 254,000, but this could not be fully attributed to Barker, the court was told.

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Barker, of George Cardnell Way, Mayland, Chelmsford, Essex, pleaded guilty in an earlier hearing to three counts of possession of items for the purpose of fraud and five counts of fraud by misrepresentation.

Defending Max Saffman said his client was “just following orders” from those higher in the chain of operation and had essentially been “sent on a run” to retrieve the phones.

He said Barker got involved when the business he started struggled and he ‘was struggling to make ends meet’.

“I would foolishly and naively suggest, he saw this as a quick and easy way to make money,” he said.

“It wasn’t he who ordered them. He was just acting on instructions.

“Even though it was a sophisticated operation that was beyond his control.”

He added that Barker, who had no previous convictions, now held two jobs.

Recorder Paul Reid QC said he was ‘roughly’ able to suspend Barker’s 16-month prison sentence, which he did for an 18-month period.

He also ordered him to do 180 hours of unpaid work.

Speaking his sentence, he said: “You were part of a sophisticated, well-planned and well-executed fraud designed to get the O2 stores in the north of England to part ways with high-value iPhones and iPads.

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“The level of sophistication of the planning is indicated by the use of fake driver’s licenses and bank cards, which allowed you to impersonate someone who had ordered a high-value iPhone or iPad, and to use it as evidence to retrieve the item.

“It goes back in its execution to someone who was able to get the contact details of existing O2 customers, and use them to order these items.

“You were then the person at the end of the chain who went to pick up the items.

“It was not you who clearly benefited from reselling these items.

“The loss for O2 of all the licenses that were in your house was somewhere in the region of a quarter of a million pounds.

“You weren’t involved in getting that kind of iPhone or iPad, so I have to be careful about approaching it based on that.

“I agree that your role was low level and took place over a relatively short period of time.

“Under these circumstances, I feel like I am about to suspend your prison term.”

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