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Group convicted following multi-million pound investigation

A group of fraudsters from Gravesend and Surrey have been convicted at court in connection with a fraud which denied British taxpayers of millions of pounds.

Narinder Chada and Gurmail Dosanjh set up fraudulent companies to buy and sell carbon credits. They would buy the credits at market value, but sell them on the cheap while also charging their clients VAT. By keeping the VAT rather than passing it on to the Government, the scheme deprived the UK public purse of £11.7 million.

Two other defendants, father and son duo Daniel Andrew Barrs and Daniel Barrs facilitated money laundering for this fraud and a previous case dealt with by HMRC in 2012. The total amount laundered was in excess of £20 million.

The Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate commenced an investigation in May 2011 after information was passed to the force by HMRC. The first arrests were made in April 2012 and the complex case came to trial in 2015.

The two month-long trial at Southwark Crown Court concluded on 26 March. The four guilty men will be sentenced on 20 April.

Chada, 61, from The Russetts in Meopham; and Dosanjh, 46, from Singlewell Road in Gravesend were both found guilty of conspiracy to cheat the public purse. Barrs, 65, from New Place Gardens in Lingfield and his 29 year-old son, from Suffolk Close in Horley, were both found guilty of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

"The group traded in carbon credits, which allow companies to legitimately produce more carbon dioxide than they would otherwise be permitted to. They are an ideal commodity for this type of fraud because they do not exist in a physical sense. The offenders used companies to buy credits from overseas and sell them in the UK. They collected the proceeds of their sales and then dishonestly and deliberately abused the VAT system. When the offences took place in 2009, the rate of VAT was 15 per cent. The more carbon credits they sold, the more VAT they could charge and keep. Invoices and paperwork were required to convince HMRC that the trade was genuine, but otherwise the fraud was relatively straightforward. In all, the offenders charged their customers £11.7 million in VAT and moved the money between several companies to try and cover their tracks. We followed the trail of laundered cash from the UK to Europe, the Middle East and as far as New Zealand and Australia. Barrs and Barrs facilitated the money laundering by setting up three offshore corporate structures and provided money laundering platforms within overseas bank accounts. This was a very organised operation but we were determined to piece together enough evidence to bring those responsible to justice. This was not a victim-less crime. By depriving the Government of millions of pounds of VAT, the offenders were in effect stealing from all UK taxpayers. The money should have been spent on schools, hospitals and other services. Once sentencing has been passed, the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate will be using Proceeds of Crime Act legislation to attempt to recoup as much of the money for the taxpayer as possible. I hope this case serves as a warning to anyone trying to commit tax fraud that the authorities, whether Kent Police or HMRC, will catch up with you."

– Detective Constable Phil Kershaw

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Residents warned after fraud incidents

Police are warning residents in Winchester to remain vigilant following incidents involving fraudsters attempting to obtain bank details over the phone.

On Thursday, March 12 police received two reports of incidents in the Winchester area where residents were contacted by someone pretending to be from the police and claiming they had arrested someone in relation to criminal activity with the bank account.

A 76-year-old man from Littleton received a call from a man claiming to be a police officer from Hammersmith Police. He said he had arrested a man called Bailey, and then asked if he had his Visa card to hand. He then said the victim needed to phone his bank. At this point, the victim realised it was a scam, and hung up the phone without giving the offender any of his personal information.

The same day, a 75-year-old man at an address in Colden Common received a similar call from a man giving the same information and asking for him to call his bank. The victim hung up the phone and did not give any personal details.

On Friday, March 13 a 63-year-old woman living in Winchester received a phone call from a man using the same scam. He asked her for her PIN and other personal information. The woman refused several times, and the man eventually hung up on her.

People are reminded to protect themselves using the following advice:

  • Never give out any personal information about your bank account to anybody over the phone.
  • If someone calls claiming to be a police officer, ask for their identification number and police force. Hang up the call and advise that you will call them back using the 101 number. A genuine police officer will not mind waiting while you check. Call them back from a different phone if possible or wait at least 10 minutes before making the call.
  • If you have given out information which could compromise your bank account security in any way, call your bank up to cancel your cards as soon as possible.
  • Never hand over money to someone at the door to be sent off elsewhere.
  • If someone comes to your door claiming to be a police officer or staff member, always ask for identification and make a note of their identification number. Ask them to wait while you verify their identity. Close the door and call 101.

“A number of residents in the Winchester area have been contacted by a man claiming to be from Hammersmith Police saying that they have arrested someone and asking if they had their Visa card to hand. The caller then advises the victim to call their bank. At this point, this is where the fraudster would stay on the line and when the victim calls the bank, they would pretend to be their bank and obtain personal information which could lead to the loss of money. We want to warn residents that these requests are not genuine and that no police officer or bank would act in this way. Anyone who recieves a suspicous call is urged not to give any details to the caller, and to report the matter to the polcie immediately.”

– PC Rich Cousins

How could he do it? Fraudster sold fake 'Help for Heroes' pin badges

A fraudster who pocketed the proceeds from selling fake Royal British Legion Poppy and Help for Heroes pin badges has been handed an eight-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and told to pay prosecution costs of £1,650.

Hampshire County Council Trading Standards secured the conviction of Jay Meech, 28, of Old Road, Gosport who sourced and sold counterfeit pin badges depicting the emblems of Premier League football teams and the two registered charities.

The fake badge is on the right Credit: HCC
The fake Manchester United badge Credit: HCC

Portsmouth Crown Court heard Meech designed the inferior quality pin badges, had them manufactured in China and shipped to the UK for him to sell via eBay and his website, ripping off the charities and football teams to the tune of £22,000 in turnover.

Following an investigation by Trading Standards officers, a warrant was executed in October 2013 and he was found to be in possession of more than 1,000 fake pin badges which depicted the emblems of several well known football clubs. Meech also had 5,849 Royal British Legion style ‘Poppy’ and 706 Help for Heroes ‘Medal’ pin badges.

These pin badges were confirmed, by the Royal British Legion and Help for Heroes, to be fake.

All the pin badges were of an inferior quality and had been manufactured and sold without permission from the football clubs or the charities.

'Day of action' against fraudsters

Victims of 'scam mail' are often the elderly or most vulnerable in our society - losing hundreds of pounds - even hundreds of thousands.

Trading Standards officers launched a 'day of action' to fight back against the swindlers. Andy Dickenson met one man who used his savings to 'try his luck' - and who says he can't believe he fell for the scam.

Sompting couple defrauded of thousands

Police want to speak to this man in connection with a money scam Credit: Sussex Police

A couple from Sompting were defrauded out of several thousand pounds when they were the victims of an elaborate scam on Tuesday last week.

A man who claimed to be calling from the Metropolitan Police rang the couple's home phone number and said that there had been fraudulent transactions on their bank account.

He then asked if they would be prepared to assist with an undercover operation to expose forged bank notes being trafficked by dishonest back staff.

A bogus courier was sent to their house and the couple handed over the money. He is described as white, in his early 20s, 5' 6"-5' 7", of small build with a pale complexion, mid-brown wavy hair and having 'childlike' features. He was dressed rather scruffily in casual clothing that included a dark round-necked T-shirt and a knitted grey cardigan with a large collar. Police have issued an e-fit of the man.

"This was an elaborate and convoluted con trick that must have required at least three people to pull it off. As in previous attempts across the county, some of which have been successful, the trick has been to convince the victims that they were phoning the police or their bank. They do this be remaining on the phone after they have called the victim, who then thinks they are making a new call to the police or bank that is 'answered' either by the original caller or an accomplice. It is a mean crime, invariably targeted at more vulnerable and trusting members of the public. We would like to hear from anyone who may have been the target of a similar scam or indeed, has become a victim. Please call us on 101 quoting serial 1643 of 16/09."

– Detective Constable Paul Tonks

Police or bank staff will never ask you for PIN numbers or send a courier to your house to collect bank cards or cash. If you have any doubts about a caller who asks you to ring back, either use another phone to call or leave it for half-an-hour or so before doing so.

You'll find correct contact details for your bank on correspondence or statements and the police can always be called on 101, no matter where you are in the country.

If you think you are being targeted, use a different phone and dial 999 immediately.

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Reading woman pleads guilty to benefit fraud

A woman from Reading has been given a suspended sentenced after being convicted of benefit fraud.

Marion Forrest, from Cambian Way in Calcot, was sentenced to eight weeks in custody suspended for 12 months after she falsely claimed more than £12,000 in housing benefits.

The 37-year-old was given a Supervision Order for six months and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £80 and £250 costs.

Reading Borough Council will always take a strong stand on issues of Fraud against the council. Thank you to the investigation team for their work in this area. If anyone suspects someone is committing fraud, either Benefit, Tenancy or Blue Badge parking fraud, they should contact 0500 50077 – a free phone fraud reporting line."

– Jo Lovelock, Reading Council Leader

Pensioners swindled out of millions of pounds

Sussex Police are the first force to quantify the scale of a scam mail fraud which is costing pensioners millions of pounds. Criminals worldwide are sending millions of scam letters into the UK, targeting elderly, vulnerable members of our communities.

For many vulnerable people, the bombardment of scam mail results in fear, severe financial difficulties and ultimately a decline in both physical and mental health. Sussex Police obtained a list of potential victims containing the names and addresses of 1,537 people living in Sussex.

Owing to the age group of the victims many had already sadly died, or moved.

Eight arrested in charity fraud investigation

Eight arrests have been made as part of an investigation into charity fraud involving thousands of pounds intended to help people in Syria.

Kent Police arrested the men at addresses across the UK during an early morning operation today after £31,816, 8,310 euro (£6,857) and 10,700 US dollars (£6,413) were seized at the Port of Dover on December 23 2012.

We will continue to ensure any large quantities of cash being transported through Kent's ports is checked against its purpose.

It is now common practice for charities to transfer aid donations electronically, for auditing purposes, transparency, and to mitigate against theft of cash.

We are working with our partners around the country to ensure money intended to help those in need in Syria is not used for criminal activity or in the terrorist arena.

It is imperative that the public has confidence in the charities they support and in the money they are donating being used for the purpose it is intended.

– Detective Chief Superintendent Chris Hogben of Kent Police

Two men aged 30 and 39 from Derby, a 36-year-old man from Harlow, Essex, two men aged 29 and 37 from east London, a 31-year-old man from south east London, a 35-year-old man from Dewsbury, and a 43-year-old from Huddersfield, both in West Yorkshire, are all are being questioned.

People in Poole arrested for overstaying their visas

Immigration officers visited a property in Shapwick Road at 6.50am to question three people to check if they had the right to be in the UK. A 30 year-old Chinese man and a 48 year-old Malaysian man were both found to have overstayed their visas.

A 38 year-old Chinese man had entered the country illegally. All three have been detained pending removal from the country.

These arrests will act as a stark warning to anyone in Dorset who is in the UK illegally. We will catch up with you and you will face arrest, detention and removal from the country. I would urge members of the public with detailed information about suspected immigration abuse to get in touch.

– Carla Johnson, head of the South Central Home Office Immigration Enforcement team
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