Two men jailed for money laundering following Hampshire & Isle of Wight Constabulary investigation
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Two men have been jailed for their involvement in a complex fraud and money laundering operation, following a lengthy investigation by Hampshire & Isle of Wight Constabulary’s Economic Crime Unit (ECU).
The money laundering offences were born out of cyber-enabled payment diversion fraud activity that occurred between February and April 2017.
During this period, victims were defrauded cumulatively to the tune of more than £200,000. The fraud involved email accounts of victims in North Yorkshire and in London being compromised, and money transfers – including funds from the sale of a house on one particular occasion – being intercepted and diverted to fraudulent bank accounts.
From there, the stolen money was transferred through various personal bank accounts, with large sums also being spent or withdrawn including from banks and at a London casino.
A Hampshire ECU investigation, launched in May 2018, led officers to the home address of 49-year-old Tyrone Christie (also known as Tyrone Trim) which was searched under warrant and a computer was seized.
The examination of this computer unearthed documentation providing evidence of a ‘money-mule’ network, including invoices, letters and other relevant documentation in the names of individuals involved in the dissipation of funds from both frauds.
Enquiries also established suspicious banking activity linked to Christie, involving large transfers and withdrawals of cash, dating back to 2016 – pre-dating the fraud.
Hampshire ECU’s lengthy investigation tracked the banking and payment activities, and a number of people were arrested and subsequently charged following enquiries.
The following two people were found guilty at Portsmouth Crown Court on Wednesday 3 May this year, at a trial which began on Monday 17 April:
Tyrone Christie (also known as Tyrone Trim), aged 49, of Riverside Drive in Mitcham, Surrey, was found guilty of entering into or becoming concerned in a money laundering arrangement between 13 July 2016 and 25 July 2017.
Gary Taylor (also known as Gareth Amaru Williams), aged 58, of Manor Road in South Norwood, was found guilty of one count of entering into or becoming concerned in a money laundering arrangement between 3 April 2017 and 2 June 2017, and one count of concealing, converting, disguising, or removing £100,134 of criminal property between 10 April 2017 and 19 April 2017.
At previous hearings prior to this year’s trial, the following defendants pleaded guilty to offences:
Samuel Bryant, aged 34, formerly of Cornflower Way in Melksham, pleaded guilty to concealing, disguising, converting, transferring or removing £70,023 of criminal property between 1 January 2017 and 9 May 2018.
Rachel Stephanie Herd, aged 54, of Arctic Road in Cowes, Isle of Wight, pleaded guilty on 1 March this year to concealing, converting, disguising, or removing £111,339.60 of criminal property between 1 January 2017 and 9 May 2018.
Fabian Nathaniel Thomas, aged 32, of Ashley Road in Bristol, pleaded guilty on 23 March this year to concealing, converting, disguising, or removing £20,000 of criminal property between 1 January 2017 and 9 May 2018.
Portsmouth Crown Court heard today (17 November) that Christie and Bryant were key players in this crime, with Bryant described as acting in an ‘operational’ role. Taylor was described by the judge as having a ‘significant’ role also, but not to the extent of Christie and Bryant.
Bryant, Taylor, Herd and Thomas all appeared for sentencing today, where they were sentenced as follows:
Bryant was jailed for 28 months
Taylor was jailed for 20 months
Herd was given 12 months suspended for 2 years, a community order, and ordered to complete 15 Rehabilitation Activity Requirement days
Thomas received 4 months suspended for 18 months, and was ordered to complete 25 Rehabilitation Activity Requirement days and 100 hours unpaid work.
A sentencing hearing for Christie has been listed for 31 January 2024.
Police Staff Investigator Daniel Culling, who led the investigation, said: “The offenders in this case were part of a sophisticated operation which saw large sums of money fraudulently and maliciously taken from victims, before being laundered, transferred and concealed.
“The court found that among those convicted and sentenced today were the key players in the laundering arm of this operation.
“Investigations into these types of offences are incredibly complex, but through dedicated police enquiries, which were supported by diligent banking staff raising suspicions to police, this criminal operation was successfully dismantled.
“The initial fraud was facilitated through the infiltration of victims’ email accounts, before money from financial transactions was diverted into criminal bank accounts.
“I hope that cases such as these help raise awareness of the risks we all face online, act as a reminder to be wary of suspicious emails and encourage people to only open emails from people they trust.”
Scammers defraud people using spam emails. If you receive a spam email, simply delete it without opening or replying to it, otherwise the scammer will send you more and more emails from lots of different addresses.
Any email you get from someone you don’t know is likely to be spam, especially if it’s not addressed to you personally and promises you some kind of gain.
If you get an email with an attachment, apparently from someone you know, but it’s not the usual sort of message you get from them, don’t open the attachment. Contact the person who’s supposed to have sent it and confirm it’s genuine. The email may have been infected with a virus and forwarded through their address book.
There are lots of ways scammers gain personal or financial information from their victims, such as:
phishing, where an email that seems to be from a legitimate company asks you to give your personal details
vishing, where either an automated phone message or a cold-caller who seems to be from a legitimate company asks you for personal details
spear phishing, which focuses on an individual or department in an organisation; the email appears to come from a legitimate organisation
Using these methods, scammers ask for information such as login details and passwords, or install malware on your computer.
As a general rule, never give your personal or financial details to anyone unless you know and trust them.