Uncle jailed for 'laundering' nephew's criminal assets - Watford

10/07/2015

Blood might be thicker than water, but helping out a member of his family has proved costly for Watford man Christopher Vauls.

Allowing his nephew to pay thousands into his bank account has landed him with a 21 month prison sentence.

St Albans Crown Court was told today, Friday, 10 July 2015, that the money was from a "boiler room fraud and tax avoidance scheme."

Vauls, aged 50, of The Phillipiers, Watford, had been told by his nephew he was helping with a payroll system. But by allowing the money to be paid in and then withdrawing it, and transferring £249,000 to the bank of a Spanish company, Vauls had been helping to "launder" the money.

In court today Vauls appeared for sentence having earlier pleaded guilty to two offencs of converting criminal property and one offence of transferring criminal property.

Isobel Delamere prosecuting said two bank accounts belongng to Vauls were used. It was his own bank that alerted the authorities to the sudden enormous sums of money going through the accounts. Vauls had a modest income until then and lived in a council house.

Simon Smith defending said at the time of the offences, Vauls was a married man, who worked as a builder, had found himself in financial difficulties with rent arrears.

It was then that his nephew approached him saying he needed the use of a bank account for a payroll scheme and everything was "above board."

Mr Smith said: "He had no idea a member of his family was part of a boiler room fraud."

Boiler room fraud is the name given gangs, who cold call targets and pressurise them to part with money over the phone.

Mr Smith said the nephew would drive his uncle to the bank on some occasions to get money for him and give him £100 for his trouble. "He was duped initially by a member of his own family," said Mr Smith.

Passing sentence Judge Martin Griffith said fraudsters operating scams like boiler room frauds depended, very often, on having access to legitimate bank accounts through which the money could pass. Such accounts, he said were an essential part of the fraud and he said the accounts made the fraud "tick."

He jailed Vauls for 21 months.

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