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Organised Crime Ring Who Conned Thousands Jailed

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Mark Powell-Richards and Allen Stringer were two of the fraudsters jailed
Mark Powell-Richards and Allen Stringer were two of the fraudsters jailed

Members of a multi-million pound organised crime gang specialising in providing fake identities and documents to thousands of customers have been jailed.

The gang ran its enterprise, Confidential Access (CA), from plush villas in Alicante, Spain, by providing bogus documents and coaching tips on how to commit fraud.

Police conducted a two-and-a-half year investigation which saw four men jailed at London's Southwark Crown Court on Friday.

Detectives revealed a well-practised production line of authentic-looking documents for committing fraud.

Many were bundled together and sold as full credit profiles including wage slips, credit history print-outs and a postal address making it possible for customers to defraud companies of thousands of pounds.

Some clients went on to commit fraud of their own which in some cases totalled more than £1 million.

Web chat forums were a key part of the fraud providing clients with information, advice and coaching them on how to use the profiles and commit fraud, said the Metropolitan Police.

Nautical terms were used to distinguish the varying levels of trust within the forums.

All new paying members would begin as deckhands and as they gained trust would climb the rank ladder from Skylarker to Shore Patrol, up to the Ship's Surgeon who was in charge.

The operation was run by Jason Place and Barry Sales from the comfort of their villas in Alicante while employees based around the UK would monitor the CA website and work on producing various documents, including false bank statements, wage slips, driving licences and utility bills.

Place, 42 of Aurora Court, Romulus Road, Gravesend, Kent, was jailed for six years and nine months for conspiracy to defraud.

Sales escaped justice, with the Crown Prosecution Service deciding not to prosecute because he is terminally ill.

Mr Dowdeswell said police were continuing to pursue CA's clients who had gone on to commit fraud themselves.

"We have worked with colleagues around the country in other police forces to have these people arrested and their assets seized and prosecute them," he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

"We can't realistically go after all 11,000 people, but everybody on that list, we have their data, we have shared it with the banks and other anti-fraud organisations to minimise the harm they can actually commit using those false identities.

"We will prioritise and try and identify the people who are or have committed the most harm and have those arrested and prosecuted."