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Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...

Dundee

Three jailed for ‘cuckoo smurfing’ money laundering fraud

September 18 2015

Three men have been jailed for total of nine and a half years after first ever ‘cuckoo smurfing’ fraud case in Scotland. Muhammed Zeeshan Abdul Hameed, Shahid Aslam,and Saleem Mohammed Shikari, have been sentenced to a total of nine and a half years for pleading guilty to their role in an international fraud operation. The trio were caught in August 2013 after police saw Hameed being given a bag containing £75,150 in Dundee. The 32-year-old was also caught with a cash counting machine after officers followed him into his house. Police found that Hameed, Aslam and Shikhari had made large deposits into third party accounts at various banks in the city between December 2013 and January 2014. Hameed, Aslam and Shikari received instructions through mobile telephone calls and text messages from contacts in Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates and elsewhere providing them with account numbers, sort codes and the names of account holders who were at that time expecting to receive transfers of money into their accounts from overseas, in particular from Pakistan and Iran. They then deposited equivalent sums of cash, being the proceeds of local crimes, into the accounts without the knowledge of the account holders. The money originally intended for the account holders was then re-routed to the local criminals, minus a commission for the launderers. The trio laundered criminal property worth at least £672,382. Hameed, from Dundee was jailed for five years and six months, Shahid Aslam, from Kirkcaldy, was sentenced to two years, and Saleem Mohammed Shikari, from Dundee, was given two years in prison at the High Court in Glasgow. Lindsey Miller, Procurator Fiscal for Organised Crime and Counter-Terrorism said: “These men played a key role in an international fraud on a truly vast scale. “This case demonstrates the ability of prosecutors in Scotland to conduct investigations that stretch across legal jurisdictions and continents, to outsmart highly experienced organised crime groups, and to bring to justice individuals involved in extremely complex frauds. “We will continue to work closely with Police Scotland and the NCA to ensure that we stay one step ahead of these gangs, and that we dismantle their networks and bring them to justice wherever they are found.” Detective Inspector Scott Thompson said: “I would like to thank all the dedicated and hard-working officers who were involved in this tremendously complex investigation which spanned the globe. Police Scotland worked closely with colleagues at the NCA and COPFS to close down Hameed, Aslam and Shikari’s illegal money laundering operation. They no doubt thought that by using a complex network of contacts, bank accounts and technology, their sophisticated fraud would continue and they would not be brought to justice. “However, today’s sentencing, following the first conviction in Scotland for this type of fraud, clearly demonstrates that regardless of how clever those involved in criminality believe they are, Police Scotland, working with its partners, will continue to dismantle serious and organised crime whenever and wherever it takes place. “Anyone who believes they have been a victim of this type of fraud should contact Police Scotland on 101.” Andrew Pollock, NCA senior manager in Scotland, said: “Most criminals are motivated by money and they need launderers like this group to process the proceeds of a broad range of activities including drug trafficking, fraud and other acquisitive crimes, enabling further criminal activity. “This money is often diverted abroad, making it more difficult to trace. But working with law enforcement partners at home and abroad we are determined to do all we can to disrupt the organised criminal networks - like this one - involved in money laundering. “This is an excellent example of joint working, where the NCA were able to share resource and expert knowledge with Scottish partners to help secure these arrests and convictions.”

Dundee

Men to face Far East ‘cuckoo smurfing’ money laundering trial

January 23 2015

Three men are to stand trial accused of laundering almost £ million through banks in Dundee via links in Pakistan, Iran and the United Arab Emirates in a criminal exercise known as “cuckoo smurfing”. A fourth man is accused of transferring £75,150 in cash to the three other accused, who are then accused of attempting to further conceal, disguise and transfer the cash through banks in Dundee to go into accounts held in England. It is understood all four two from Dundee, one from Kirkcaldy and one from Glasgow were arrested in Dundee following a covert operation at City Quay by undercover officers. All four accused Muhammed Zeeshan Abdul Hameed, 34, of Marine Parade Walk in Dundee; Shahid Aslam, 36, of Dean Park Court, Chapel, Kirkcaldy; Philip McGovern Reid, 47, of Duthil Street, Glasgow; and Saleem Mohammed Shikari, 49, of Mayfield Grove, Dundee are now due to appear at the High Court in Glasgow in March. Among the charges, Hameed, Aslam and Shikari are accused of possessing £673,902 between February 6 and August 27 2013 at Marine Parade Walk, Dundee; Barclays, High Street; Lloyds TSB, 101 Strathmartine Road, Coldside; Lloyds TSB, 55 High Street, Lochee; and HSBC, Murraygate, all Dundee, and elsewhere unknown. Between the same dates, at the same places, the same three are accused, while acting with others unknown, of having concealed, disguised, transferred and removed from Scotland at least £673,902, having received instructions and information through mobile telephones from people in Pakistan and UAE. Previously, they had appeared at the High Court on petition and made no plea or declaration. They are now to appear at a preliminary hearing in Glasgow in March.

Dundee

Money laundering scam artist ordered to hand over £75,000 after ‘cuckoo smurfing’ con

November 17 2015

A man who was jailed for his role in a money laundering scam known as “cuckoo smurfing” has been ordered to hand over £75,150 to prosecutors. Muhammed Hameed, 32, was ordered to give up the cash under proceeds of crime legislation following a court hearing on Monday. The scam artist was jailed for five-and -a-half years earlier this year alongside accomplices Saleem Shikari, 52, and Shahid Aslam, 36. The trio used a complicated scheme to hide almost £700,000 belonging to criminal gangs before police caught them in Dundee in 2013. The scheme known as cuckoo smurfing involves replacing legitimate cash intended for bank transfers overseas with dirty money. Cuckoo refers to the fact that those involved pay sums of money into accounts of other people unassociated with the criminal activity. This is likened to the way a cuckoo will lay its eggs in the nests of other species of bird. The police launched Operation Confab to catch Hameed and his accomplices, before catching them at his house with a money counter and a plastic bag containing £75,000. Detectives watched the gang making multiple deposits of significant sums of money at city banks “on a regular, almost daily basis”. Officers built up financial profiles of the men and gathered enough evidence to bring Hameed and Shikari, of Dundee, and Aslam, of Kirkcaldy, to court. Passing sentence at the High Court in Glasgow, temporary judge Johanna Johnston QC told Hameed: “You became involved in a sophisticated scheme. A large amount of money over a relatively long period of time was laundered. “This was done through a network of contacts who provided you with details of accounts. It also involved innocent third parties who unwittingly had their confidential bank details used and passed on to others.” At the High Court in Edinburgh judge Lord Burns was told by depute advocate Barry Divers that prosecutors and defence lawyers had agreed that Hameed should hand over £75,150. Mr Divers also told the court that prosecutors were no longer pursuing Shikari and Aslam. Lord Burns ordered that Hameed should pay the sum to clerks at Glasgow Sheriff Court within six months.

Fife

Lochgelly shop is first in Fife to be banned from selling cigarettes

February 27 2014

A shop in Lochgelly has become the first registered tobacco outlet in Fife to be banned from selling tobacco products, following an investigation by Trading Standards officers. Fife Council applied for a tobacco retail banning order against Humayum Saleem trading as Costcutter, 49 Main Street, Lochgelly, after staff were caught selling tobacco products to under-age customers on three occasions. Dunfermline Sheriff Court granted the order and it will ban the shop from selling tobacco for four months. This is the second such order to be granted in Scotland this month. The shop sold packets of cigarettes to three different test-purchasing volunteers, all under 18, on three separate occasions, despite being offered advice and assistance from Trading Standards on how to comply with the legislation. Fife Council Trading Standards lead officer Dawn Adamson said: “Despite numerous advisory visits, repeated warnings and six fixed penalty notices being issued in total, which were all paid, Mr Saleem’s staff continued to sell cigarettes to under-age volunteers. “On no occasion did they ask for their date of birth and on the one occasion when ID was asked for, the volunteer advised she did not have any but the sales assistant still went ahead with the sale of the cigarettes. “Due to three separate offences being committed within a three-month time period, we were left with no option but to seek an order from the court banning him from selling tobacco products. “The Tobacco and Primary Medical Services (Scotland) Act 2010 permits a local authority to apply to have a retailer banned from selling tobacco products if they breach the act three times within a two-year period. “We are pleased that this order has been granted in this instance. However, the vast majority of retailers in Fife who are registered to sell tobacco comply with the legislation and work with Trading Standards to avoid selling tobacco to anyone under the age of 18.”

Road tests

Audi Q2 puts quality over size

March 21 2018

Audi’s Q2 was one of the first premium compact SUVs on the market. It sits below the Q3, Q5 and the gigantic, seven seat Q7 in Audi’s ever growing range. Although it’s about the same size as the Nissan Juke or Volkswagen T-Roc, its price is comparable with the much larger Nissan X-Trail or Volkswagen Tiguan. Even a basic Q2 will set you back more than £21,000 and top whack is £38,000. Then there’s the options list which is extensive to say the least. My 2.0 automatic diesel Quattro S Line model had a base price of £30,745 but tipped the scales at just over £40,000 once a plethora of additions were totted up. Size isn’t everything, however. In recent years there’s been a trend of buyers wanting a car that’s of premium quality but compact enough to zip around town. It may be a step down in size but the Q2 doesn’t feel any less classy than the rest of Audi’s SUV range. The interior looks great and is user friendly in a way that more mainstream manufacturers have never been able to match. The simple rotary dial and shortcut buttons easily trounce touchscreen systems, making it a cinch to skim through the screen’s menus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eQ5p5Z7-Ek&list=PLUEXizskBf1nbeiD_LqfXXsKooLOsItB0 There’s a surprising amount of internal space too. I took three large adults from Dundee to Stirling and no one complained about feeling cramped. As long as you don’t have a tall passenger behind a tall driver you can easily fit four adults. At 405 litres the boot’s big too – that’s 50 litres more than a Nissan Juke can muster. Buyers can pick from 1.0 and 1.4 litre petrol engines or 1.6 and 2.0 litre TDIs. Most Q2s are front wheel drive but Audi’s Quattro system is standard on the 2.0 diesel, as is a seven-speed S Tronic gear box. On the road there’s a clear difference between this and SUVs by manufacturers like Nissan, Seat and Ford. Ride quality, while firm, is tremendously smooth. Refinement is excellent too, with road and tyre noise kept out of the cabin. It sits lower than the Q3 or Q5 and this improves handling, lending the Q2 an almost go-kart feel. On a trip out to Auchterhouse, with plenty of snow still on the ground, I was appreciative of the four-wheel drive as well. The Q2 is expensive – though there are some good finance deals out there – but you get what you pay for. Few cars this small feel as good as the Q2 does. Price: £30,745 0-62mph: 8.1 seconds Top speed: 131mph Economy: 58.9mpg CO2 emissions: 125g/km

UK & World

Pakistan bans ‘too racy’ condom ad

July 25 2013

A condom commercial starring a sultry Pakistani model has been banned after the country's media watchdog received hundreds of complaints that the ad was too racy. Mohammad Saleem, a senior regulatory official, said the ad violated the agency's code of conduct. The commercial shows a Pakistani couple wondering why their neighbour's new bride, played by model Mathira Mohammed, is working so hard to keep her husband happy. In response, the neighbour smiles and holds up a pack of condoms made by Josh, which means excitement in Urdu. He says: "Bring Josh into your life." Some Pakistanis complain the country is growing more conservative as hardline versions of Islam take hold. The decision to ban the commercial comes as Pakistan grapples with a rapidly growing population of 180 million.

This student took his Tinder profile to the next level by turning it into a PowerPoint presentation

February 21 2018

Standing out from the crowd on Tinder can be tough, but with the help of Microsoft PowerPoint a British student has managed just that – and gone viral in the process.Sam Dixey, a 21-year-old studying at Leeds University, made a six-part slideshow entitled “Why you should swipe right” – using pictures and bullet points to shrewdly persuade potential dates to match with him on the dating app. The slideshow includes discussion of his social life and likes, such as “petting doggos” and “laser tag”, and “other notable qualities and skills” – such as being “not the worst at sex” and “generous when drunk”.It even has reviews mocked up from sources such as “Donald Trump”, “Leonardo Di Capri Sun” and “The Times Guide to Pancakes 2011”.Sam told the Press Association the six-slide presentation only took about 20 minutes to make and “started off as a joke”.However, since being posted to Twitter by fellow Tinder user Gracie Barrow, Sam’s slideshow has been shared tens of thousands of times across social media.So, it’s got the seal of approval form Gracie, but how has the slideshow fared on Tinder? “I’d have to say it has been pretty successful,” Sam said. “Definitely a clear correlation of matches and dates beforehand to afterwards.“Most of the responses tend to revolve around people saying ‘I couldn’t help swipe right 10/10’ but I’ve had some people go the extra mile and message me on Facebook.“Plus some people have recognised me outside, in the library and on dates.”A resounding success.

Dundee

Shopkeeper wrestled with knife-wielding robber

August 23 2016

A Dundee shopkeeper who was threatened by a ski mask wearing armed robber during an early-morning raid has revealed he grappled with the hapless thief. The Courier revealed on Saturday that St Giles News Plus, in the St Marys area of Dundee, had been targeted by a knife-wielding crook. Mohammed Saleem, who has run the shop for the past 15 years, was unhurt in the incident and said he fought with the would-be robber before he made his escape. Mohammed revealed: "I opened the store slightly later than normal around 6.50am and I was putting out the papers and milk. "There had been a few customers coming in but at around 7.30am this guy appeared. He was wearing a big black jacket with a hoodie which was right up — only his eyes were visible. "I was standing behind the counter when he came in and he told me to give him all the money from the till." Mohammed said the robber was brandishing a kitchen knife as he aggressively asked for the cash. He added: "It was a big knife with a brown handle — probably about the size of a kitchen knife. When he asked me for the money I told him I didn’t have any. Then he responded by saying "You’ll get hurt". "He kept asking me for money but I kept telling him I didn’t have any. "Then he came over the counter and he told me I was going to get hurt. At this point I was panicking — but I grabbed his right hand which was holding the knife and we struggled back and forth for a few moments." Mohammed said the handle broke off the knife, at which point the man ran away. Richard Gierelo, the owner of neighbouring Josie’s chip shop, said he passed CCTV on to police in an attempt to catch the robber. He said: "I came in on Saturday morning and the police were outside the store. “I asked them what was going on and they told me someone had gone into the shop with a knife and a ski mask and demanded money. “I’ve got CCTV which shows right out on to the street and I’ve passed that on to police. Hopefully it helps catch the guy.” A spokeswoman for Police Scotland said: “The incident happened around 7.45am on Saturday and involved a man entering the St Giles News Plus shop, before brandishing a weapon at the shop assistant, demanding money. “The man left empty-handed. Fortunately, the male shop assistant wasn’t injured during the incident.”

Motoring news

Join the queue for littlest Audi Q

November 9 2016

Audi’s relentless release of new models continues with the launch of its smallest SUV. The Q2 goes on sale in the UK next week with prices starting at £22,380. There’s an extensive selection of petrol and diesel power trains as well as the option of front or Quattro four-wheel drive. More models will be added to the range later on, including powerful SQ2 and RSQ2 versions. Aimed squarely at a younger audience, the Q2 has bolder, sharper lines and a different shape to Audi’s bigger SUVs, the Q3, Q5 and Q7. Although it’s clearly meant more for buzzing around cities than growling across farmland, cladding and skid plates lend it an aura of ruggedness. Audi is also offering a range of vibrant colours to deepen the Q2’s appeal to youthful buyers. The interior is as plush as you’d expect from Audi, justifying its price hike over similarly sized SUVs like the Nissan Juke and Honda HR-V. The materials are high quality – softtouch plastics, leather on higher spec cars and brushed aluminium trim elements all blended into a smart-looking package. As standard, drivers get a seven-inch infotainment screen on top of the dashboard. It’s operated through Audi’s rotary dial system that’s far more intuitive and easier to use when on the move than rivals’ touchscreen systems. Among the many options is Audi’s excellent Virtual Cockpit - a 12.3in screen that replaces the manual instruments behind the steering wheel. Overall, the Q2 is 4.7in shorter than the A3 hatchback, but Audi says there’s enough leg and headroom for two adult passengers in the back. Boot space comes in at 405 litres – 50 more than you’ll find in the A3 hatchback and rival Nissan Juke, although it trails the Mini Countryman by the same amount. To begin with, the only diesel option is a 1.6 litre with 114bhp, although a more powerful 184bhp 2.0 litre unit will be added to the range soon. Similarly, the petrol engine range is limited for now but will be expanded by the end of the year. The 1.4 litre, 148bhp unit offered now will be joined by 1.0 litre, 114bhp three cylinder turbo and 2.0 litre, 187bhp options – the latter coming with an S-Tronic automatic gearbox. When it arrives the 1.0 litre petrol version will be the cheapest model in the range with a price tag of £20,230. Courier Motoring has yet to get its hands on the car but early reviews have been very positive and Audi looks to have yet another winner on its hands. jmckeown@thecourier.co.uk

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