Compensation for elderly victims following eight year fraud investigation
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Elderly victims of a ‘boiler room’ investment fraud who were groomed and scammed of a total of over £800,000 have received compensation after confiscation orders were obtained against seven of the conmen involved.
More than £300,000 in compensation has been obtained as a result of the confiscation orders, and this will be shared on a pro rata basis amongst the 24 victims from across the country who were duped by the scam.
The final confiscation order (against Tarun Juin – see below), was obtained at Kingston Crown Court on 2 June, concluding an eight-year investigation.
The fraud first came to light in 2013 after one of the victims, a woman in her 80s from Woking, asked her bank manager to help her transfer £100,000 to the fraudsters. The bank manager became suspicious and contacted police, which triggered an investigation into an organised crime group running an elaborate and sophisticated scam.
The ten defendants involved, who all received prison sentences (except one who was given a 12 month sentence suspended for two years), set up a company ‘The Commodities Link’ which appeared legitimate with offices in Canary Wharf, glossy brochures and slick marketing videos. They boasted of celebrity links, and would send cars to collect high value victims and take them out for meals.
In fact it was all a façade – the Canary Wharf offices were serviced offices and mailboxes, and the claims in the glossy brochures and slick videos were fake.
Salesmen for the company would call victims and sell investments in “rare earth elements” – raw materials used in industrial processes as catalysts, and in the creation of high quality glass and magnets. Victims were sold an investment “basket” containing one or two kilograms, which were effectively worthless, as the supposed market – large industrial firms – would only be interested in buying the materials by the tonne direct from the mining companies.
Over the lifetime of the company, between April 2012 and August 2014 (when it was wound up by the High Court), ‘The Commodities Link’ took over £800,000 from at least 24 victims – many of whom were elderly or could not afford to keep investing at the rate that was demanded of them. None of the victims received any return on their investments, despite being assured that they would. In many cases the fraudsters returned to the same victims again and again, demanding more money for storage of the materials or to release their equity.
Detective Inspector Anna Martin from Surrey Police’s Economic Crime Unit, said: “Providing compensation to all 24 victims involved is the result of an extremely protracted and complex investigation which, for various reasons, has taken eight years to bring to a conclusion. Although they will not be fully compensated for the losses these victims have suffered, this will at least go some way to making up for what they have lost.
“The tenacity and determination shown by the investigation team cannot be understated, and the fact that we have secured jail sentences for nine out of 10 of those involved, as well as obtaining confiscation orders against seven of them, is testament to their hard work.
“This was a complex case to investigate due to the large number of defendants, the huge amount of digital, financial and paper evidence, and the complex nature of the defendants changing relationships during the time that the fraud took place.
“I want to particularly pay tribute to the bank manager who started this investigation by giving us a call when he was uncomfortable with an investment a client was trying to make. Without his quick thinking, who knows how much further they would have got.
“These thieves in suits were extremely professional in their approach to defrauding their victims. They cold-called them, but took their time over making the investment seem legitimate, grooming the victims into believing that they had done their homework and this was a good investment.
“The lives of many of these victims were left broken as a result – these fraudsters took life savings, left investors destitute and ruined their confidence and independence.
“My message to anyone receiving a cold call about an investment opportunity is to hang up. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! If you are tempted to make investments, then seek professional advice and help and if you think you have been a victim of fraud, report it to Action Fraud.”
The ten people involved in the investment fraud include:
- Genarro Fiorentino, 38, of Wetherell Road, Hackney, was found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud on 28 November 2018 and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment. He was also issued with a Serious Crime Prevention Order. He was given a confiscation order with a benefit figure of £652,567.29 and ordered to pay back £130,614.80 (police took the residue from the sale of Fiorentino’s Docklands properties once outstanding creditors had been paid).
- Darren Flood, 40, of Ware Road, Hertford, was found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud on 28 November 2018 and was sentenced to 30 months in prison. He was given a Confiscation Order with a Benefit Figure of £190,000.00 and ordered to pay back the same amount in full.
- John Docker, 32, of High Road, Chigwell, was found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud on 28 November 2018 and was sentenced to 30 months. He was given a Confiscation Order with a Benefit Figure of £30,085.14 although a nominal figure was ordered to be repaid (police can re-visit a nominal order if assets are subsequently identified).
- Mark Whitehead, 59, of Ixworth, near Bury St Edmunds, was found guilty (by majority verdict) of conspiracy to commit fraud on 28 November 2018 and sentenced to three and a half years. He was given a confiscation order of £50,000.
- Vikki King (also known as Vikki Edwards), 39, of Pattiswick Square, Basildon, was found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud on 28 November 2018 and was sentenced to 27 months. She was given a confiscation order with a benefit figure of £54,000.00 and ordered to pay back £7,000.
- Stephen Todd, 37, of Blackwall Way, Tower Hamlets, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud on 6 September 2018 and was sentenced to a further year to be served consecutively to a previous seven year sentence for fraud.
- Paul Muldoon (also known as Paul Roberts or Paul Taylor), 34, of Hockley Green, Basildon, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud on 9 March 2018 and was sentenced to four years. He was also issued with a Serious Crime Prevention Order, given a confiscation order with a benefit figure of £276,607.99 again with a nominal figure to be repaid (police can re-visit a nominal order if assets are subsequently identified).
- Tarun Jain, 50 of Walsall, West Mids, was sentenced to 26 months’ imprisonment for three counts of converting criminal property on 27 September 2019. He was given a confiscation order with a benefit figure of £294,514.91 and ordered to pay back £87,989.80.
- Ike Patrick Obiamiwe, 57 of East Clacton, London, was sentenced to 30 months’ imprisonment for three counts of converting criminal property. He was also issued with a Serious Crime Prevention Order.
- Daniel Jordan, 36 of Bexleyheath, Kent was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment, suspended for 24 months, for two counts of converting criminal property. He was also ordered to pay £4,000 in compensation.