Three money laundering cash couriers guilty of transporting £104m in criminal cash out of the UK
Three money laundering cash couriers were found guilty at Isleworth Crown Court, for their part in arranging the transportation of illegally obtained cash out of the United Kingdom.
Samantha Horst, age 51, Bridget Jane Taylor, age 43, and Craig Bramall, age 42, were all found guilty of money laundering related offences at Isleworth Crown Court.
All three defendants acted as ‘couriers’ for an organised crime group, transporting illegally obtained cash from London to Dubai.
The National Crime Agency investigation and subsequent prosecution review revealed that the three defendants each transported up to £500,000 in cash, concealed in suitcases, through Heathrow Airport to Dubai.
The money transported by Horst, Taylor, and Bramall, contributed to an estimated overall figure of £104 million in cash, sent to Dubai by the organised group.
Evidence showed that, after checking-in the suitcases at Heathrow Airport, the couriers sent photographs of the baggage labels to the organised crime group, as proof that suitcases had been deposited with the relevant airline.
Only after the organised crime group received proof that the suitcases had been checked in, were the couriers supplied with codes to unlock them. Additional security measures were put in place by the organised criminals to ensure that the couriers delivered the cash to the correct person by photographing the serial numbers on the bank notes, before they were packaged in suitcases.
The cash itself was vacuum-packed within the suitcases with coffee granules and air fresheners, to avoid detection by currency detection dogs at the airport.
John Werhun of the CPS said: “Criminals want to find ways to hold on to their illegally gained cash and one way is to move it out of the country.
“In total, the organised crime group transported a colossal quantity of cash, totalling £104million, to Dubai. As cash couriers, Horst, Taylor, and Bramall were a vital part of the overall criminal enterprise and must have known or suspected the cash was derived from criminal conduct.
“Money laundering is an essential part of organised criminality, enriching individual criminals and funding their future conduct. It serves to undermine the United Kingdom economy and has the potential to threaten our national security. it is therefore a crime that affects all of us.
“The CPS has commenced proceedings to recover these defendants’ criminal proceeds.”
Advice and guidance on money muling
A money mule is a person who transfers stolen money between different countries.
Money mules are recruited, sometimes unwittingly, by criminals to transfer illegally obtained money between different bank accounts. Money mules receive the stolen funds into their account, they are then asked to withdraw it and wire the money to a different account, often one overseas, keeping some of the money for themselves.
Even if you’re unaware that the money you’re transferring was illegally obtained, you have played an important role in fraud and money laundering and can still be prosecuted. Criminals will often use fake job adverts or create social media posts about opportunities to make money quickly, in order to lure potential money mule recruits.
Behaviours that put you at risk of becoming a money mule:
- Responding to job adverts, or social media posts that promise large amounts of money for very little work
- Failing to research a potential employer, particularly one based overseas, before handing over your personal or financial details to them
- Allowing an employer, or someone you don’t know and trust, to use your bank account to transfer money
How to protect yourself:
- No legitimate company will ever ask you to use your own bank account to transfer their money. Don’t accept any job offers that ask you to do this
- Be especially wary of job offers from people or companies overseas as it will be harder for you to find out if they really are legitimate
- Never give your financial details to someone you don’t know and trust
Notes to editors
- John Werhun is a Specialist Prosecutor in the CPS Serious Economic Organised Crime and International Directorate (SEOCID)
- Samantha Horst (DOB: 22/05/72) was found guilty of a money laundering related offence
- Bridget Jane Taylor (DOB: 29/01/80) was found guilty of money a laundering related offence
- Craig Bramall (DOB: 07/08/81) was found guilty of money laundering related offences