An organised crime group behind a £20m scam to defraud major retailers out of goods has been exposed thanks to Greater Manchester Police.
Operation Component was launched by Greater Manchester Police's Fraud Investigation Unit in 2009 to target a criminal network suspected of fraudulently hijacking the corporate identities of fast food giant McDonalds and Greggs the bakery.
By setting up bogus email addresses but using the names of genuine employees of both firms, they were able to fraudulently obtain credit and millions of pounds worth of goods from a number of major suppliers.
They ordered goods and arranged for them to be delivered to addresses in Manchester and Cheshire, where the goods were collected but never paid for. Only a fraction of the goods fraudulently stolen have ever been recovered.
In total, 13 companies fell victim to the scam, recording losses of around £3m. As many as 80 companies were embroiled in the conspiracy but a number of them sensed something was amiss and cancelled the orders, otherwise the total losses would have been just short of £20m.
One of the firms that were scammed were Celltec Limited, and a result of recording losses of over £400,000 because of the criminal actions of this gang, went into liquidation and 40 employees were made redundant.
Today, the gang were sentenced at Manchester Crown Court.
At previous hearings, Daniel Pomeroy (born 03/11/1987), of Oldham (aka Daniel McDonagh) pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud and James Chapman (born 08/07/1990) of Sycamore Avenue, Chadderton, pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to defraud.
Chapman was sentenced to three years in prison and Daniel Pomeroy was sentenced to three and a half years in prison.
Daniel's uncle, Kevin George Pomeroy (born 29/11/1965) of Stamford Drive, Failsworth, pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to defraud and one count of money laundering.
He was sentenced to eight and a half years in prison.
Kevin's wife Julie Pomeroy (born 20/08/1973), also of Stamford Drive, Failsworth, pleaded guilty to money laundering.
She escaped jail and received a 12 month suspended sentence with 150 hours of unpaid community service.
Kevin and Julie used the money to fund a lavish lifestyle far beyond their legitimate means of income, which included a plush home in Failsworth, a rented holiday home in Spain, purchasing jewellery and rare and expensive sports memorabilia, dental veneers, high-powered cars and extravagant amounts of money spent on christening and other events.
Detective Chief Inspector Dave Pester, Senior Investigating Officer said: "One of the biggest problems facing the UK right now is this sort of impersonation or hijacking of corporate identities, which is costing the economy millions of pounds every year."
– Detective Chief Inspector Dave Pester, Senior Investigating Officer
This organised crime group successfully obtained £3m worth of goods, and if they had succeeded with every fraud would have pocketed just shy of £20m worth.
That is a staggering amount and if you consider this sort of scam could be happening across the UK, the cost to the economy is eye-watering.
Not only that but it feeds the black market which puts genuine retailers out of business as these goods find their way into peoples homes.