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An organised crime trio from Oldham who robbed innocent customers interested in buying the vehicles they advertised for sale have been jailed for 38 years. They were all sentenced yesterday (7 July 2021) at Minshull Street Crown Court.
Between 28 September 2019 and 15 February 2020, the gang targeted and terrorised at least 18 people who were under the impression of getting a good deal after seeing their vehicles for sale on eBay.
The group - who often referred to themselves online as "Adam", "John" or "Jim" - would promote the great price for the cars due to factors such as 'reduced due to RTA damage' or claiming that vehicles were advertised for a quick sale for to illness in the family, divorce or a family business in debt.
Members of the public would then meet with the gang to view the car but were faced with a group of masked males, armed with machetes and hammers.
During some of the incidents, the gang were said to have held a handgun, believed to be an imitation firearm, to the heads of victims and a bullet was recovered from within the Citroen Berlingo van the offenders were using.
The trio - led by Mohammed Farid from Oldham - targeted vulnerable victims such as women alone and directed them to meet in isolated places in Oldham and around Manchester city centre.
To avoid detection, the group were set up new email addresses, phone numbers and mobile phones and frequently change them around to avoid being caught.
A lot of potential customers on eBay had early inclinations that the cars and group were suspicious and decided against going ahead with the sale and reported it to Greater Manchester Police.
However, 18 people - believed to be more - fell victim to their plotting and were robbed by the three who threatened and stole their cash before making off.
The first reported robbery took place on Pellowe Road in Oldham on 19 November 2019 when a customer met the group to buy an Audi Q2 under the false illusion that they were selling it due to need of a quick sale as their business was struggling.
When the customer met the group, he was faced with a group of armed men who threatened the innocent customer with a 15-inch-long machete above his head whilst shouting "I'm going to chop you up, give me the money." They then made off with £11k from the victim and drove off.
There were a total of 28 incidents reported to police believed to relate the OCG, including nine robberies, seven attempt robberies, one report of a disturbance and 11 reports of suspicious circumstances.
They were finally rumbled when armed officers found and arrested the men before they were about to carry out a "sale" following an investigation by detectives from GMP's Serious and Organised Crime Group (SOCG).
As a result of a covert Investigation, the men were arrested in a stolen Kia Sportage outside McDonalds on Lorne Street, Oldham on 14 February 2020.
Mohammed Farid (30/09/1973) of Lorne Street, Oldham, was jailed for 20 years after being convicted of conspiracy to commit robbery.
Faisal Farid (24/09/1995), of Osborne Street, Oldham, was jailed for 12 years after being convicted of conspiracy to commit robbery.
Adam Marco (16/06/2000), of Kent Street, Oldham, was jailed for six years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery.
Detective Chief Inspector Joe Harrop, from GMP's Serious Crime Division, said: "These men were exceptionally organised and clearly knew exactly what they were doing and what they wanted - they have left some people extremely shaken up and they're still coming to terms with what they experienced now.
"These men had a clear set-up and would frequently change email addresses, eBay accounts, phone numbers, and mobile phone handsets and provide fraudulent vehicle documentation to potential customers.
"They would clearly target those most vulnerable and direct them to quieter areas which were more isolated but thankfully no one was seriously injured.
"The scale and sophistication of their offending was astounding but they have now been brought to justice thanks to our team of detectives in SOCG who carefully pieced together all of their crimes and helped to put them behind bars where they deserve today.
"The old saying goes - if a deal looks too good to be true - it probably is. I'd recommend people not to agree to paying in large sums of cash and meet in a safe, well-lit area.
"Anyone concerned or anyone with information can report it online at www.gmp.police.uk.
"Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111."