A FORMER Redditch United player and Somalian international footballer who was part of a fraud gang has been sentenced to 12 months in prison.
Ahmed Ali, 26, was one of five men who were found guilty of conspiring to defraud at York Crown Court.
The law graduate and interpreter had initially denied the charge but was convicted by jury and was ordered to pay a £100 victim surcharge.
Ali, alongside fellow Somalians Abubaker Omar, 27, Mubidi Kassim, 30, Abdinasir Mohamed, 28, and Mohammed Ali, 25, targeted McArthur Glen Designer Outlet in York on October 1 and October 18 in 2014.
The court heard that while some members of the gang distracted shop assistants others keyed in the numbers of stolen credit cards.
The frauds totalled £3,800.
Their activities came to an end however, on October 18, 2014, when the shop manager realised the four men other than Omar were conning her shop and phoned the police.
Omar, who also pleaded guilty to two charges of people smuggling, was jailed for six years, Kassim and Mohamed were jailed for 16 months while Mohammed Ali was jailed for 12 months.
Ali joined Redditch United from Bromsgrove Sporting at the end of October last year before moving back to his former club two months later.
After hearing of Ali’s conviction, Bromsgrove Sporting chairman Mike Burke told of the club’s devastation and described the midfielder as a promising footballer who would be a huge loss for the team.
“We are absolutely stunned by the news and the fans are in disbelief.
“The fans cannot believe it’s the same Ahmed Ali they know and love because he did not come across like that.
“He cared so much for the club and the fans but what we have seen is a world apart.
“We would never have thought he had it in him to do something like this.”
Mr Burke added: “It’s not only devastating news for us, but for Ali and his family too.”
A club statement also confirmed Sporting’s first-team manager Paul Smith had been in contact with Ali and had been supporting his young family throughout the ‘difficult circumstances’.
A North Yorkshire Police spokesperson “The behaviour of this group was despicable. This gang repeatedly targeted the same retail outlets, using innocent members of the public’s debit and credit card details to fund extravagant purchases, thinking they were never going to be caught.
“Thanks must go to the eagle-eyed security staff who raised the initial alarm and the determination of North Yorkshire Police to bring these criminals to justice.