Guilty: Two fraudsters caught conning vulnerable victims out of £36m | #scams | #elderlyscams
After duping vulnerable victims out of £36m, two fraudsters have been convicted today after their ‘boiler room’ fraud operation was foiled.
Paul Seakens and Luke Ryan were found guilty at the specialist court Prospero House Southwark on charges of running a business for fraudulent purposes. Seakens was also convicted of money laundering and proceeds of crime charges.
The pair were directors of a Winchester-based Enviro Associates that sold Voluntary Emission Reduction (VERs) carbon credits to primarily vulnerable individuals.
Read more: John McAfee close to bankruptcy as he fights crypto fraud charges
“This was a particularly hideous scam operation, where vulnerable victims lost their life savings on so-called investments that had greatly inflated return claims and no resale market,” Jane Mitchell of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said.
“In each of these frauds elderly and generally inexperienced investors were targeted. They were cold-called in their homes and pressured into buying these so-called investments by criminals who made them look genuine and trustworthy.”
Using call operatives to make false claims about returns, the VERs sold to clients were essentially worthless and bought through Seakens’ London-based company CNI for very small sums.
Read more: Lex Greensill apologises for Greensill Capital collapse as he faces ‘fraudster’ allegations
The VERs were then sold by the ‘boiler rooms’, which are essentially call centres for con artists, to victims at inflated prices.
Seakens and Ryan would pump up prices by between 200 and 1,000 per cent, bringing in high fraudulent returns.
The money from the victims was deposited directly into the bank accounts of three London-based clearing companies, CNI, Tocan and Opus, which were all controlled by 66-year-old Seakens.
The fraudsters then took a chunk of commission for their own pockets and then paid back the con call centres.
Read more: Malaysia’s 1MDB launches legal bid to recover $23bn in assets after fraud scandal
The clearing system was a money laundering method, CPS specialist fraud prosecutors said.
The clearing companies were created, in part, to suggest the VER transactions were legitimate so that customers would comfortably part with money to Financial Conduct Authority regulated third party companies. The system was also key to the entire con operation.
Detective Inspector Paul Curtis, from the City of London Police’s Financial Investigation Unit, said: “This has been a complex and lengthy investigation and I would like to thank the victims in this case for their resolve and determination in seeing it through to a conclusion.”