A major nationwide fraud operation, with approximately 120 police officers deployed across England to target suspected money launderers facilitating a multi-million pound investment scam, has seen 13 men arrested at 18 addresses.
Early yesterday (Wednesday 03 September 2014) morning City of London Police detectives, supported by officers from 10 local forces (Thames Valley, Metropolitan Police, Essex, Surrey, Cambridgeshire, West Mercia, Humberside, Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, Northants) apprehended the suspects on suspicion of defraud and money laundering.
In Humberside a warrant was executed at an address close to Main Road, Newport, Brough. A 51-year-old local man was arrested at the address in connection with the investigation before being released on police bail pending further enquiries.
The gang behind the alleged fraud is believed to have been running four boiler rooms, cold-calling people at home and selling them investments in gold leasing and airtime minutes in mobile phone operators through fraudulent companies Demmore Ltd, Simply Airtime, S+E Future and Vodacell.
More than 100 people have already fallen victim to the scam with reported losses of £2.8 million.
Following information from BBC Radio 4 programme ‘You and Yours’ detectives traced the suspects arrested today through bank accounts believed to have been set-up by the gang to receive and launder the stolen funds, most of which has either been withdrawn in cash or transferred overseas.
The 13 men arrested were detained in total and taken to local police stations for questioning. At the same time investigating officers seized business documents and mobile phones at addresses in Milton Keynes, Northampton, Peterborough, Ashford (Surrey), Dagenham, Harrow, Brough (Humberside), Basildon, Stamford (Lincs), Hinckley (Leics) and Wolverhampton.
Detective Inspector Teresa Russell, who is leading the ongoing investigation for the City of London Police, said: “Disrupting and apprehending organised crime gangs running investment frauds in both the UK and overseas continues to be a major priority for City of London Police. The size of today’s operation, involving support from 10 police forces and a total deployment of 120 officers, demonstrates that this a commitment shared by law enforcement across the country.
“Victims were cold called by this gang to invest their money in gold leasing and airtime, on the promise of quick and large returns. The stark contrast is that these investment schemes appear to be scams and we suspect those arrested as part of today’s police operation laundered the missing millions for their own or others benefit.”
Anyone who believes they have fallen victim to this suspected fraud or invested in products offered by Demmore Ltd, Simply Airtime, S+E Future and Vodacell should report to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. Anyone who receives a cold-call from someone trying to sell them something over the phone is strongly advised to hang-up.
In the past few years the City of London Police, which is the National Policing Lead for Fraud, has investigated investment frauds involving shares, carbon credits, land, diamonds and gold that have taken hundreds of millions of pounds from tens of thousands of victims.
Most notably in February an international operation involving Spanish, American and Serbian police saw 110 suspects arrested across Europe and North America and criminal assets seized worth £500,000.
Detective Chief Superintendent Dave Clark, who heads up the City of London Police’s Economic Crime Directorate added: “As the National Policing Lead for Fraud we specialise in major and complex operations involving organised crime gangs running multi-million pound investment frauds. Thanks to the support of nine police forces our investigation into these fraudulent companies has taken a significant step forward and investors around the UK are that little bit safer.”