Monday, September 25, 2023

Tilbury man escapes jail for money laundering

A SOUTH London cyber-criminal who stole nearly £100,000 from a church worker has been jailed.

Isaac Andrews conned the victim into sending seven transactions totalling £98,550.

The money, which was due to be spent on a new community centre, ended up in the bank accounts of a number of “money mules”, with Andrews’ gaining the most.

Andrews, 43, of Farm Road in Morden, was jailed for three years on Friday (August 23) following a trial at Woolwich Crown Court.

The court heard the victim of the fraud believed she was carrying out the instructions of a senior official within the Oxfordshire-based church, not realising that the emails purporting to be from him contained an additional dot in the sender’s address.

A police investigation established that the money was transferred to two separate bank accounts before then being split up and forwarded to a number of others.

One of the original two accounts belonged to a Gravesend woman and it was found that she received £68,650.

Andrews was soon identified as being the link between the money mules and the man responsible for the money laundering operation, resulting in his arrest on May 23, 2017.

He was found guilty of money laundering and sentenced on Friday. Four others were also found guilty of money laundering but Andrews was the only one sent to jail.

Afizz Olanrewaju, 28, of Cowper Avenue in Tilbury, Essex was given a nine month prison sentence, suspended for two years.

Sarah Lodge, 43, of Barking Road in Canning Town received a one year prison sentence, suspended for two years, and Sean Doyle, 34, of Braxteds in Laindon, Essex was given a six month prison sentence, suspended for two years.

All four must also carry out 80 hours of unpaid work.

Complex investigation

Detective Sergeant Jon Saxby, of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said after the sentencing: “Isaac Andrews was at the top of this criminal network and the main beneficiary of a scam that defrauded a church of almost £100,000.

“This was a lengthy and complex investigation that sends a clear message to criminals like Andrews that no matter how much time has passed or how clever you think you have been, your crimes will catch up with you in the end.

“Nationally there has been an emerging trend where offenders persuade vulnerable people or students to allow them to use their bank accounts, sometimes in exchange for a percentage of the cash sent to them.

“Whether the account owner benefits from the transaction or not, by making their account available they have become criminally involved in the money-laundering process. Ignorance is not an excuse and could land you before the courts.”



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