Two brothers have received prison sentences and their parents have received suspended sentences following a health insurance scam that cost £2 million. The scam involved misleading websites that convinced people to pay for European Health Insurance Cards, which are actually free from the official NHS website.
The defendants, who are from Sunderland, were sentenced at Leeds Crown Court after an investigation led by Trading Standards and supported by North Yorkshire and City of York councils.
The fraud involved Damien Sartip Zadeh, 32, and Dale Sartip Zadeh, 35, promoting their deceptive websites to appear at the top of search results in order to trick consumers into paying for their health cards unnecessarily.
However, these websites were a cover for a “clever cut and paste” operation, where customers’ details were simply copied to the NHS website form. The court found both Damien Sartip Zadeh and Dale guilty of fraudulent trading and money laundering between February 2013 and October 2019.
As a result, Damien was sentenced to nine-and-a-half years in prison, while Dale received an eight-year sentence. Their parents, Diane Sartip Zadeh, 60, and Mahmud Sartip Zadeh, 62, also faced charges of money laundering and received a two-year suspended sentence.
In addition to their sentences, both parents were ordered to attend 10 activity rehabilitation days, and Mahmud had to complete 200 hours of unpaid work. The brothers were also disqualified from being directors for a period of 10 years.
Damien Sartip Zadeh faced additional charges of aggressive commercial practices for intimidating consumers who complained about the scam to prevent them from seeking refunds.
National Trading Standards Chair, Lord Michael Bichard, described the case as a “serious and organised fraud,” with large sums of money taken from unsuspecting individuals. Ruth Andrews, eCrime manager at City of York Council, noted that the defendants persisted with their fraudulent activities despite numerous red flags being raised.
Councillor Greg White of North Yorkshire Council commended the National Trading Standards eCrime team for successfully bringing this long and difficult case against the family of scammers.