A fraudster who conned former Gurkha soldiers out of more than £30,000 after he offered them non-existent security jobs working for the Sultan of Brunei has been given a 32-month jail sentence.
Sandeep Gurung, who is a Nepalese ex-Gurkha soldier, used his knowledge of the British Army regiment to trick his victims into sending him thousands of pounds.
Northampton Crown Court heard the 34-year-old committed 22 counts of fraud, totalling more than £28,000, between August 2013 and January 2014. He also asked for £5,000 worth of further fraud offences to be taken into account.
Stephen Lowne, prosecuting, said Gurung had “very good powers of persuasion” that he used to “prey” on large numbers of former Gurkha soldiers living in the UK.
Mr Lowne said: “He would lull them into trusting him by adopting the surname of each victim.
“He knew that in Nepalese culture if you have the same surname you may have some sort of family relation and these enhances trust between the two men.”
You got people to trust you with your word but they found that meant nothing.His Honour Judge Timothy Smith
The court heard Gurung had three different scams he used to steal money from the soldiers. The first involved telling them he could get them a job as a security guard for the Sultan of Brunei or the Royal families of Saudi Arabia or Dubai and then informing his victims they needed to pay him money for a ‘CCTV licence’ before they could be employed.
Gurung also tricked some of his victims by telling them they were owed money from the British Government but needed to make a bank transfer to him first before receiving it.
The fraudster also deceived another victim by claiming he could get a reduction in his mortgage payments if he sent over a ‘loan’ payment of more than £1,000.
Mr Lowne said Gurung’s crimes caused them all a great deal of upset and distress.
That court heard that Gurung, who was dismissed from the army in 2008 after he was convicted of six offences of theft and two charges of being absent without leave, went on to steal money from a company that runs a children’s play area, near Reading.
Mr Lowne said Gurung was employed as general manager at Jungle Mania in Woodley in March 2012 and was put in charge of making sure the day’s taking were all placed in a safe at the end of the day.
During a period when the owner of the business was off work for 10 days as her husband had a heart attack, Gurung was seen by other members of staff to take the takings home, a total of almost £5,000.
Mr Lowne said that, after he was confronted about the missing money, Gurung claimed he thought it would be “safer” at his house but said he would return it to the safe the next day.
Gurung then failed to attend work after claiming that his mother had died. He then failed to show for another two days and did not subsequently return any of the owners phone calls.
Henry James, defending, said Gurung had stolen the money to pay off gambling debts and had also sent money home to family in Nepal.
Mr James said: “He is deeply ashamed of what he has done and, through me, offers a whole-hearted apology to his victims.”
His Honour Judge Timothy Smith said the Gurkha regiment was a “very proud” part of the British Army and he had let himself down as well as his family and colleagues.
Judge Smith said: “You got people to trust you with your word but they found that meant nothing.
“What you did was systematic and cruel. You used your powers of persuasion to get people to trust you and you then breached that trust.
“You preyed on the vulnerability of the former Gurkha soldiers.”
Gurung pleaded guilty to a charge of theft from employer and 22 counts of fraud. All of the fraud offences are belived to have been committed when Gurung was living in Northamptonshire.
Judge Smith sentenced Gurung, of Lancaster Way, Farnborough, to 10 months in prison for the theft and 22 months in prison for the fraud charges, to be served consecutively. He is likely to serve half his sentence in custody before being released on licence.
Detective Constable Robin Peasland, from the organised crime and drugs team, said: “We are very happy with the sentence handed down to Gurung. Although he readily admitted his offending and pleaded guilty he has shown little remorse for his actions and instead has blamed a gambling habit.
“Despite absconding from court when he was originally due to be sentenced the police and the judicial system have caught up with Gurung and he is now paying the price for his actions.