News Gang guilty of stealing £600,000 from elderly
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.