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Jail for scam gang who netted £2.7m

December 4, 2012, 8:51 pm

Three men who swindled victims around the world out of £2.7m using a variety of scams have been sentenced to 14 years and two months imprisonment at Croydon Crown Court today (04 December). A fourth man will be sentenced next year.

[A] Sergius Ene (16.09.68 – 44 ys) of Rushden Gardens, Ilford, IG5
[B] Osas Odia (26.02.79 – 33 ys) of Battery Road, Thamesmead, SE28
[C] Obinnam Nwokolo (07.04.75 – 37 ys) of Chesworth Close, Erith, DA8
[D] Unchechukwu Onuoha (04.10.72 – 40 ys) of Aspen Green, Erith, DA18

all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud contrary to common law, and conspiracy to transfer or convert criminal property contrary to Section 1(1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977 at Croydon Crown Court on 5 November.

The four men formed an organised criminal network that enticed 13 victims from the UK, USA, Australia, Canada, Venezuela, Belgium and Mauritius into believing a plethora of cons, including that they had won a lottery or were in line for a large inheritance. Some were offered the opportunity to make high-value investments – but the goods on offer did not exist. Once their victims were hooked, the men charged them “legal fees”, “taxes” and “admin charges” in order to claim their prize or goods.

Nwokolo and Onuoha were responsible for making initial contact with potential victims. Officers from the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) recovered draft letters and mailing lists from their computers, along with evidence of telephone calls made to the victims.

When police searched Onuoha’s family home they found an industrial letter folding machine, capable of folding 1350 letters per hour into envelopes. They also found piles of envelopes addressed to potential victims.

Ene and Odia acted as the gang’s bankers. The victims were instructed to pay money into nominated bank accounts, some of which were operated by these two. The money was then withdrawn as cash or sent overseas by them.

Officers from the MPS’s Specialist and Economic Crime Command began to investigate the gang when a victim in the UK reported that a digging machine he had paid thousands of pounds for had not been delivered. A financial investigation uncovered accounts linked to that which he had paid money into, and revealed numerous other victims.

As a direct result of these frauds the victims lost a combined total of £2,753,516.28.

Police will now apply for a confiscation order.

Onuoha is scheduled to be sentenced at Croydon Crown Court on 11 February 2013.

Investigating officer, DC Brendan Quilter, of the MPS’s Specialist and Economic Crime Command, said: “This gang was operating with business-like efficiency, to the extent that they had bought a letter folding machine. This enabled them to quickly dispatch their plausible sounding lies to their targets.

“They used documents that looked genuine and their patter was so convincing that some victims re-mortgaged their homes and put their businesses at jeopardy in order to fund the many fees the gang charged them.

“Criminals like these put great effort into tricking people because they stand to make so much money from their victims. Anyone who receives a call, an email or a letter telling them that they’re in line for money, or offering them an investment opportunity, ignore it, no matter how convincing it may appear.”

For advice on these kinds of scams see www.actionfraud.police.uk.

If you think you have been a victim of a scam like this call police on 101 or Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. Alternatively, report it online at www.actionfraud.police.uk.

101 – The police non-emergency number

101 is the number to call when you want to contact your local police in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland – when it’s less urgent than a 999 call.
Find out more information about 101 by following this link.

 
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