Three men convicted of ‘cuckoo smurfing’ in Scots law first

Three men convicted of 'cuckoo smurfing' in Scots law first

Three men have become the first in Scotland to be convicted for running a sophisticated international money laundering scheme known as “cuckoo smurfing”.

Muhammed Hameed, 32, Shahid Aslam, 36, and Saleem Shikari, 52, each pleaded guilty at the High Court in Glasgow to a charge under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, and are due to be sentenced next month.

Advocate depute Steven Borthwick, prosecuting, explained to the court how the practice works.

It involves scammers facilitating an overseas transaction between two perfectly innocent parties, but swapping the legitimate cash for their own “dirty money” before the transaction is complete.

The name of the technique comes from the cuckoo bird’s practice of laying its eggs in the nests of other birds.

Mr Borthwick told the court it was a sophisticated crime operated by a syndicate of highly organised criminal gangs.

A total of £672,382 was laundered by the three Scots criminals in this way until police swooped on the trio at the culmination of Operation Confab in 2013, the court heard.

Mr Hameed played an “organisational role” in the scam, while Mr Aslam and Mr Shikari were said to have played a “lesser, although still significant” part in the crime.

Judge Johanna Johnston QC deferred sentencing until September.

Share icon
Share this article: