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'Money mules' sentenced in nationwide fraud case

Men from Blacon and Ellesmere Port were among eight defendants in bank account scam

Liverpool Crown Court

Two men from Ellesmere Port and Chester were among eight people used as ‘money mules’ in a nationwide fraud who have now all been sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court.

Mike Buggy, 31, of Thirlmere Road, in Ellesmere Port was given an eight-month jail term suspended for two years, plus 100 hours unpaid work.

While Liam Morgan, 27, of Marlowe Close in Blacon was handed a seven-month jail term suspended for two years, and 100 hours unpaid work.

The court heard the gang were convicted for a series of frauds between August and September 2014. The victims were bank account holders with a variety of High Street banks. They were contacted by phone by people that the police have yet to trace claiming to be employees of their respective banks.

The victims were told their accounts had been hacked and there had been fraudulent activity on their account. The bogus callers managed to convince their victims that they were genuinely from the relevant bank.

They were told to transfer money in £10,000 denominations into new accounts, the details of which were given to them by the callers. The victims followed the instructions and, some days later, went to their local branch to collect new cards.

It was then that they realised the callers were bogus and their accounts had been hacked.

The money they had transferred into ‘new accounts’ had been taken. The prosecution told the court the fraudsters who contacted the victims employed ‘money mules’ to receive the stolen money into their accounts.

Generally, the ‘money mules’ received £1,000 for every £10,000 of stolen money received into their accounts.

Siobhan Heron, head of the complex casework unit in Mersey Cheshire Crown Prosecution Service said: “The defendant Robert Scott would contact the money mules and arrange a meeting and then ferry them around to their banks to collect the money.

“He would give them instructions on how much to withdraw and would allow them to keep a certain amount. The mules were talked into the scheme by those higher up in the fraud as a chance to make some money fast. Hundreds of thousands of pounds were taken in the scam.

“The victims thought that, by transferring the money, they were protecting their accounts. In fact they were walking straight into a large scale fraud.

“Powerful personal statements were read to the court where the victims described feeling ‘humiliated’, ‘duped’, ‘stupid’ and ‘naive’.

“They described the emotional impact of being conned. One said the money taken had been saved for a trip to see family in Australia. Another described how the scam happened in the same year that his son was having potentially lifesaving surgery.

“This has had a devastating impact on them. The police investigation will continue into those higher up in this elaborate operation.”

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