Five fraudsters have been jailed for a total of 17 years and nine months, for conning vulnerable victims out of nearly £1 million.
The five men were facing charges of conspiracy to defraud and money laundering. The court heard how, between 2013 and 2015, the group of men conned more than 50 victims into a fraud and money laundering scam. The men would cold-call elderly and vulnerable people, introduce themselves under fake names and claim they were brokers with expertise in fine wine.
They operated from an industrial estate based in Great Dunmow, and claimed to work for three companies, Mayfair Worldwide Trading Ltd, Commodex Global Limited and Winchester Associates Ltd, based in prime locations such as Mayfair, these companies were all found to be fake.
Once they would get hold of a victim, they would call them repeatedly an persuade them to sell their holding, or invest in fine wines, whilst stating they could sell them on their behalf for a profit. On some occasions the victims were told their wines would be exchanged for precious stones and diamonds that did not exist. The victims would transfer their wines hoping to receive their agreed payments within 28 days, however none of the victims ever received any money.
After numerous victims reported their suspicions to Action Fraud, officers from the Met’s Organised Crime Command launched a joint investigation with Essex Police. Police were able to link the defendants to the offenses through forensic analysis and financial investigations.
Police carried out a series of search warrants and all five men were arrested. The searches unearthed a substantial amount of contacts containing victims details were found. All five men were charged with conspiracy to defraud and money laundering in January and February 2018.
Lead Investigator, DC Tony Rundle, said: “This group of fraudsters targeted vulnerable people across the United Kingdom, scamming them out of huge sums of money for their own financial gain. Our officers carried out a meticulous investigation and I am pleased the gang will now face justice for their calculated actions which ruined the lives of many victims. I would like to thank my colleagues for their hard work and dedication throughout this long running investigation.”
Detective Sergeant Michael Pannell, from Essex Police said: “These defendants were audacious and confident enough to think the use of fake names would prevent them from being caught. However, thanks to the thorough police investigation, they were proved wrong.”
The Five men were sentenced as follows:
Adam Edwards, 37 of Hertfordshire was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment, and a five-year Directors Disqualification Order.
Barry Warner, 38 of Essex, was sentenced to five-and-a-half years’ imprisonment.
Tarik Drissi, 35 of Essex was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment.
Christopher Brummit, 36 of Bishop Stortford was sentenced in his absence to three years and three months’ imprisonment, plus a five-year Directors Disqualification Order. Officers are appealing for assistance from the public to trace Brummit who was last seen in October 2018 in London. A warrant has been issued for his arrest in relation to this matter and he is further wanted by Essex Police for an unrelated robbery offence.
James Brooks, 34 of Bishop Stortford was sentenced to 20 months’ imprisonment – suspended for two years – and ordered to complete 300 hours of unpaid work.