Allged fraud gang leader Ray Lee remanded back into custody after two months unlawfully at large

PSNI release
The alleged leader of a fraud gang has been remanded into custody after spending two months unlawfully at large Credit: PSNI

The alleged leader of a gang of fraudsters has been remanded back into custody after spending more than two months unlawfully at large. Ray Lee, 30, is accused of heading a criminal operation where bogus police officers conned elderly and vulnerable victims across Northern Ireland out of more than £200,000 in cash and jewellery. He appeared at Belfast Magistrates’ Court following his detention by police in the city.

Alongside him in the dock was 59-year-old Elijah Clifford, of Ballynafoy Close in Belfast, on a charge of helping him remain at large. Lee, of Colin Glen Green in Hannahstown, west Belfast, is among nine people facing prosecution in connection with the suspected racket. But he had not been seen since being granted compassionate bail to attend a funeral in Dublin in August. Earlier this month a judge declared him “off the grid” and issued a warrant for his arrest. In court on Tuesday a defence solicitor confirmed that neither Lee nor Clifford were seeking bail. Judge Philip Mateer remanded both men in custody to appear again next month.

Up to 40 victims were allegedly targeted over a period between 2020 and 2021. They were advised to withdraw funds, provide banking details, or hand over cash and jewellery kept at home in order to protect against the risk of being scammed. People living in Belfast, Ballynahinch, Carryduff, Dundonald, Holywood, Glengormley, Bangor, Larne, Lisburn, Lurgan, Craigavon, Ballymena, Antrim, Portadown and elsewhere were all targeted, according to the charges. Previous courts heard police believe Ray Lee was the “brains” behind the alleged operation. He faces charges of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation and possessing criminal property. Lee and Clifford were both remanded into custody until dates in November, when all nine defendants are expected to face a preliminary enquiry hearing.

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