'Money mules' in a nationwide scam sentenced
Eight people who were used as 'money mules' in a nationwide fraud have now all been sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court.
Kathryn Gillbanks, 27, of Kingsway, Huyton on Merseyside, is the last of the gang to be sentenced. She was given an eight month jail sentence, suspended for two years, and ordered to do 150 hours of unpaid work. She was also ordered to pay £2,250 in compensation to one of the victims.
The Court heard that 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 that their accounts had been hacked and that 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 that they'd transferred into 'new accounts' had been taken. The prosecution told the court that 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."
The defendants and sentences were:
- Mike Buggy, (DOB 15 4 1986) Thirlmere Road, Ellesmere Port. 8 months jail term, suspended for 2 years, 100 hours unpaid work.
- Kathryn Gillbanks, DOB 27 1 1990, Kingsway, Huyton, Merseyside, 8 months jail term, suspended for two years. 150 hours unpaid work, 12 months supervision.
- Kirsty Ubido, DOB 26 3 1991, St Helens, !2 month community order, 80 hours of unpaid work.
- Scott Rogers DOB 2 4 1987, Shirdley Avenue, Liverpool. 7 months jail term, suspended for two years, 18 months Supervision Order.
- Leigh James, DOB, 26 9 1992, Chadwick Road, St Helens. 8 month jail term, suspended for two years. 80 hours of unpaid work.
- Anton Du Cooke, DOB 26 1 1983, Worcester Road, Bootle. Curfew order.
- Liam Morgan, DOB 29 3 1990, Marlowe Close, Blacon. 7 months jail term, suspended for 2 years 100 hours unpaid work.
- Robert Scott: 12 months jail term, suspended for 2 years, 200 hours of unpaid work and £2250 compensation to one of the victims