News Gang guilty of steal­ing £600,000 from el­derly

Nuneaton Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE -

A MAN from Coven­try and two women from War­wick­shire are wait­ing to be sen­tenced af­ter be­ing found guilty of be­ing part of a gang that stole more than £600,000 from el­derly vic­tims.

Last Fri­day, five men and four women were found guilty of money laun­der­ing of­fences, whilst a man and woman had pleaded guilty ear­lier this year at Hove Crown Court. It fol­lows an in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the South East Re­gional Or­gan­ised Crime Unit (SEROCU).

The of­fences took place around the coun­try with vic­tims be­ing tar­geted from Rugby, Lon­don, Es­sex, Cam­bridgeshire, Stafford­shire, Sus­sex, Sh­effield, South­sea, West Bromwich, Northamp­ton and Mid­dle­sex.

Scott Watkins, 37-years-old, of Mat­lock Road, Coven­try, was found guilty of money laun­der­ing of­fences which in­cluded 15 counts by unan­i­mous de­ci­sion and one count by ma­jor­ity de­ci­sion of con­vert­ing crim­i­nal prop­erty con­trary to sec­tion 327(1)(c) of the Pro­ceeds of Crime Act.

The court heard he had re­ceived a to­tal of £142,100.00 from the four vic­tims in Rugby, South­sea, West Bromwich and North Lon­don be­tween 19 Au­gust 2014 and 9 April 2015. Two women from War­wick­shire were also found guilty of steal­ing a com­bined to­tal of nearly £10,000.

Char­lotte Mor­ris, 38, of Es­sex Close, Ke­nil­worth, War­wick­shire, was found guilty of one count of con­vert­ing crim­i­nal prop­erty con­trary to sec­tion 327(1)(c) of the Pro­ceeds of Crime Act.

She had re­ceived £6,000 from a vic­tim in the Rugby area which took place be­tween 8 and 10 April 2014.

Chantelle Hin­ton, 27, of Bur­bury Close, Leam­ing­ton Spa, War­wick­shire, was found guilty by ma­jor­ity ver­dict of one count of con­vert­ing crim­i­nal prop­erty con­trary to sec­tion 327(1)(c) of the Pro­ceeds of Crime Act. She had re­ceived £2,800 from a vic­tim in the North Lon­don area be­tween 6 and 8 Au­gust 2014. SEROCU’s Re­gional Fraud Team con­ducted an in­ves­ti­ga­tion un­der Oper­a­tion Kan­teen. The re­sult was 11 de­fen­dants were ei­ther found guilty or pleaded guilty to 49 of­fences with a to­tal loss of £614,700.00 Fi­nan­cial In­ves­ti­ga­tor, Julie Thomp­son, from SEROCU’s Re­gional Fraud Team said: “This was long and com­plex in­ves­ti­ga­tion, with many of the of­fences dating back to 2014. The of­fend­ers tar­geted vul­ner­a­ble el­derly vic­tims, who they tricked into giv­ing them large sums of cash, some­times their life sav­ings, with­out any care for the im­pact this would have on their vic­tims. With­out the money laun­der­ers, who are pre­pared to know­ingly al­low their ac­counts to be used to laun­der the pro­ceeds of crime, these ab­hor­rent crimes would not hap­pen.

“These con­vic­tions send out a clear mes­sage to of­fend­ers that the South East Re­gional Or­gan­ised Crime Unit will pur­sue all those involved in these de­spi­ca­ble crimes against the most vul­ner­a­ble in our com­mu­nity.

“Our next step af­ter these crim­i­nals are sen­tenced will be to aim to try and get com­pen­sa­tion of the vic­tims, in an at­tempt to re­cover the money they have spent a life time work­ing for.”

The other eight de­fen­dants are from Wolver­hamp­ton, Es­sex, and Le­ices­ter and are charged with nu­mer­ous money laun­der­ing of­fences rang­ing from con­vert­ing crim­i­nal prop­erty to en­ter­ing into or be­com­ing con­cerned in a Money Laun­der­ing ar­range­ment

All the de­fen­dants are to be sen­tenced on 8 Jan­uary 2018 at Lewes Crown Court.

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