Three Sussex people, including a couple from Haywards Heath, have been sentenced over fraud and money laundering after an investigation into Timeshare and ‘boiler room’ fraud.
A police statement says that Frances Harris, 74, of Dudeney Lodge, Upper Hollingdean, Brighton; Graham Lewis, 50, of Firlands, Haywards Heath, and his wife Rosemary Nye, 52, of Butlers Green Road, Haywards Heath, were sentenced at Lewes Crown Court today (Wednesday 9 October), having been found guilty on the previous day after a two and a half week trial.
Harris was sentenced to five years imprisonment for four offences of fraud by false representation, two offences of money laundering,- and an offence of fraudulently claiming £27,000 in benefits, to which he pleaded guilty today.
Lewis was sentenced to four and a half years years imprisonment for four offences of fraud by false representation and eight offences of money laundering.
Nye was sentenced to two years imprisonment, suspended for two years for one offence of fraud by false representation and five offences of money laundering.
The statement adds that the charges, authorised by the Crown Prosecution Service, followed an investigation by detectives from West Sussex CID alleged that the three defendants carried out a ‘boiler room’ fraud in 2009/10 and a Timeshare fraud in 2010/11.
More than 100 people across the UK reported losing a total of at least £500,000 which has never been recovered.
In 2009/10, a company name, Global management Investments, sold large amounts of stocks and shares by the means of what is known as ‘boiler room’ fraud. Victims were allegedly contacted by telephone and persuaded to part with large sums of cash for shares. The share certificates were never received and by the time the victims realised that they had been deceived the company had closed down. Large amounts of money were paid into accounts, and this money was then allegedly moved between them. Harris was the leader in this, supported by Nye and Lewis who helped launder the money through accounts.
In 2010/11, another company name, Rest Assured Property Services, was set up and sold Timeshare apartments by phone. A fee was then paid by victims who were informed that this fee was required before any sale could be completed. Victims paid the initial payment before being then asked to pay the VAT on the sale. All monies were paid into bank accounts and no Timeshare properties were ever sold. In this phase of activity Lewis took more of a lead, supported by the other two.
Detective Constable Julie Beckwith of the Sussex Police Major Fraud Unit said; “These offences began to come to our notice in 2010 when people from across the country started to contact their local police and say they had been defrauded. Forces realised that the Sussex was the centre of the operation and we started enquiries. The defendants were operating from their addresses and at one point during the 2010/11 operation they were also using a rented office space in Crawley, essentially for receipt of mail.
“We do admire the five victims, one of whom was from Sussex, who were called by the prosecution and gave compelling evidence at the trial which helped show the jury the evil way in which they were defrauded.
“This case is a salutary reminder to everyone, especially the more elderly in our communities, not to be taken in by cold callers on the phone. Do not ever agree to anything there and then. Check it out, using legal advice, family and friends to help. If you are atll suspicious, or worried, tell the police - preferably via the Action Fraud helpline on 0300 123 2040, but you can also call your local police at any time.too.