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A 34-year-old man has been jailed for four years after being found guilty of committing fraud after opening bank accounts using counterfeit European identification documents.
George Eduard Costache, aged 34, pleaded guilty at Winchester Crown Court to committing fraud by false representation across Hampshire, Dorset and Surrey – all of which occurred between 1 September 2018 and 3 July 2020.
Winchester Crown Court heard how 76 separate bank accounts had been opened by Costache during this time in Hampshire, Dorset and Surrey, which were then used to receive funds gained by fraudulent activity. In total £1,213,817 had been received into these accounts - including funds from multiple victims for the purchases of caravans, tractors and heavy plant machinery which did not exist. These funds were from individuals overseas, with no UK victims identified during the investigation.
The court also heard that during a search of an address at which Costache resided, 23 counterfeit European identification documents and passports were located and linked these to the fraudulent activity.
George Costache, of Sussex Street, Winchester was sentenced on Friday 20 November. He was found guilty of four counts of fraud, one count of possession of articles for use in fraud and one count of money laundering. As a result he was given a 4 year custodial sentence for money laundering with 4 years concurrent for committing fraud and 2 years concurrent for possession of 23 counterfeit identification documents.
Detective Sergeant, Marcus Mills, said: "Today, with the support of a wide-range of national and international partners, an offender has been brought to justice and handed a substantial custodial sentence. This was a complex investigation which has yielded a fantastic result. The cost to Costache’s victims have been potentially life-changing, both financially and psychologically, so we are pleased to see that he is no longer a threat to the local communities of Hampshire, Surrey and Dorset.
“In handing down a lengthy sentence, which reflects the nature and severity of his criminal activity, we hope that this will act as a future deterrent to those individuals looking to exploit both banking institutes and vulnerable people who unfortunately fall victim to fraudulent schemes.