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Ex-hotel chain employees sentenced to five years for stealing £170,000

  • Fraud Squad investigation leads to successful result
  • Total of five years in prison for ex-hotel employee fraudsters
  • £173,222 stolen by abuse of position

Two ex-hotel chain employees were sentenced on Monday 22 May 2017 to a total of five years for conspiracy to commit fraud by abuse of position for stealing a total of £173,222 from their employer, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG).

 

Following an investigation by the City of London Police’s Fraud Squad, Youssef Daif, previously known as Neji Ahmed, aged 34, of Columbus Avenue, Brierley Hill, Walsall was sentenced to three years and six months in prison and Mousa Qasem, aged 37, of no fixed address was sentenced to 18 months in prison. They set up three fraudulent travel agencies, InterContinental Voyages Ltd and NHT Travel Ltd while working as reservation agents for IHG. Qasem was dismissed by the chain in 2010. Daif was dismissed following his arrest.

 

IHG’s hotel in Paris identified that InterContinental Voyages had received the most commission payments from IHG. When travel agencies make a booking for customers to stay at IHG they receive a payment from the hotel in appreciation, known as a commission payment. The high level of commission payments to InterContinental Voyages gave the impression that it was responsible for directing the most business to IHG.

 

The fraud came to light when the General Manager of IHG’s Paris hotel contacted InterContinental Voyages in January 2011 and offered to bring the agency’s UK-based staff to the hotel in Paris for a weekend reward package in recognition of the their hard work. However, the Paris hotel’s management became suspicious when the staff at InterContinental Voyages responded with a lack of interest. The management began to look into InterContinental Voyages and the fraud was discovered.

 

IHG subsequently undertook an examination of the hotel’s association with InterContinental Voyages. It was discovered that Daif manipulated customer bookings to incorrectly reflect that InterContinental Voyages was responsible for the bookings. In reality, no commission payments should have been paid to InterContinental Voyages as the bookings were actually made directly with the hotel.

 

As a result, in March 2011, the City of London Police’s Fraud Squad received a report of fraud from IHG about concerns surrounding the suspicious commission payments made to InterContinental Voyages between August 2009 and January 2011. The Fraud Squad investigation found that Daif had manually manipulated customer bookings to incorrectly reflect that InterContinental Voyages was responsible for the bookings, therefore enabling himself and Qasem to claim the commission fraudulently.

 

The City of London Police carried out a search warrant at the home address of Daif in April 2012 and uncovered numerous commission cheques as well as a laptop containing more than 500 invoices from InterContinental Voyages for various bookings.

 

The investigation determined that Daif was also responsible for similar reservation amendments that benefitted NHT Travel. Detectives also found that Qasem’s home address and mobile number were used on the application for the NHT Travel bank account. An email account for NHT travel was found on Daif’s mobile phone.

 

In April 2012, the City of London Police arrested Daif for fraud by abuse of position and money laundering. Qasem had fled the jurisdiction and was in Jordan or Kuwait with no known return date. He was therefore placed on Police National Computer as wanted by the City of London Police and was subsequently arrested when he arrived back in the UK in September 2015 at Heathrow airport.

 

Detective Constable Ceri Hunt who led the investigation for the City of London Police said: “These fraudsters used their positions within the hotel company to manipulate the system in a way that allowed them to steal a substantial amount of money.

 

“Today’s sentencing shows that the City of London Police is committed to stamping out this blatant breach of trust and we are grateful to InterContinental Hotels Group for their co-operation in bringing this case to trial.”

 

An IHG spokesperson said: “We’ve been working closely with City of London Police throughout the investigation. We’re pleased this has now come to a close and the culprits have been brought to justice.”


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