Thursday, 29 August 2013

Rogue Traders Made To Pay For Their Crimes

More than £250,000 confiscated from Rogue Trader gang

A team of rogue traders and money launderers who were previously sentenced to more than 28 years in prison have today been ordered to hand over £253,000 they made from their crimes.

Norwich Crown Court today (August 29) ordered the confiscation of their assets under the Proceeds of Crime Act. These assets will be used to compensate the many elderly and vulnerable victims targeted by the team.

The case follows a three year investigation by Cambridgeshire County Council’s Financial Investigation Team which supported the substantive criminal investigation conducted by the County Council’s Trading Standards Service and Cambridgeshire Police (Operation Magpie)

It saw their powers under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 used to not only trace and restrain the defendants ill gotten gains and provide evidence of money laundering but also to uncover further victims who had not reported the crimes out of fear.

Joseph Henry Lee, of Chesterton in Cambridge, who was sentenced by Cambridge Crown Court to seven and half years in prison, was ordered to pay £148,634 by Norwich Crown Court today. His wife Beverley Lee £52,204, Joseph Bellman Jonathan Lee £40,000, James William Forrest £5,642, Kelly Gray £2,695. Trevor Nockolds £2,600 This follows the earlier confiscation of nearly £9,700 from launderer Phillip Carr in 2011 as part of the same case, which was returned to his elderly Cambridge victim.

The investigation revealed that the gang ripped off over one hundred customers, some of whom handed over their life savings as grossly-inflated payment for poor quality and often unnecessary work the conmen undertook.

The prosecution also saw a number of the defendants prosecuted for money laundering, having cashed victims cheques through their own bank accounts on behalf of the ringleaders who wished to distance themselves from the criminality. These money launderers would take a cut of typically ten per cent for providing this service.

Cllr Mathew Shuter, Cambridgeshire County Council Cabinet Member for Enterprise said: “We welcome the orders made by Norwich Crown Court today. It is important that these criminals are not able to benefit from the wealth they have accumulated at the expense of their victims. Furthermore, in many cases the victims had lost their life savings to these rogues, so I am delighted that as a County Council we were able to fully utilise the powers of our Financial Investigations Unit to claw back the money from these criminals and return it to their victims. ”

If you think that someone you know may have been a victim of a rogue trader, please contact Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0845 4040506.