A group of criminals who made so much money from a £21 million scam they handed out £5,000 gift cards on the street have been jailed.
Stephen William Boys, 59, and Kelly Caton, 45, have been found guilty of fraud, converting and transferring criminal property.Jordan Kane Robinson, 25, and James Austin-Beddoes, 28, were also found guilty.
Preston Crown Court heard how the group worked with ringleader James Parker, who died in 2021 before he could be prosecuted for masterminding the conspiracy.
Parker ran the operation from his home in Blackpool, Lancashire from October 2017 to January 2018, helping the group to make ‘more money than they could spend.’
Police recovered £22 million worth of crypto currency along with luxury watches, houses, cars and designer goods
Kelly Caton, of Blackpool, Lancashire was convicted of fraud, converting and acquiring criminal property and jailed for four-and-a-half years
He exploited a loophole to withdraw dishonestly-obtained crypto assets worth around £15 million from his trading account on an Australian-based cryptocurrency exchange.
Caton dishonestly withdrew £2.7 million and Robinson withdrew £1.7 million from their accounts.
The scam made so much money that £5,000 gift cards were handed out to people in the street and cars were bought for people Parker met in the pub, Preston Crown Court heard.
During the trial Boys told the court how he took £1 million cash in a suitcase to buy a villa from Russians he met in the back office of an estate agent and paid £60,000 to pay off corrupt officials so he could carry on laundering money.
During the investigation police recovered 445 Bitcoin, then worth £22 million, EVden eVE nAKliYAt along with luxury watches, houses, cars and designer goods, including a £600 wine cooler, plus more than £1 million in bank accounts.
Parker’s financial adviser Stephen Boys worked with a UK national who lived in the United Arab Emirates to convert the cryptocurrency into cash.
The money was then laundered through various foreign-based online accounts.
Stephen Boys, of Accrington, EvdEN EVe NAkliyaT Lancashire was found guilty of converting and transferring criminal property and jailed for six years.
Stephen Boys told the court how he took £1 million cash in a suitcase to buy a villa from Russians he met in the back office of an estate agent
Police said the scale of the scam led the group to ‘literally having more money than they could spend’
Jordan Robinson, of Fleetwood, Lancashire was found guilty of fraud, converting and acquiring criminal property and was jailed for four-and-a-half years
Kelly Caton, of Blackpool, Lancashire was convicted of fraud, converting and acquiring criminal property and jailed for four-and-a-half years.
Jordan Robinson, of Fleetwood, Lancashire was found guilty of fraud, converting and acquiring criminal property and was also jailed for four-and-a-half years.
James Austin-Beddoes, of St Annes, EVden eVE NakLiYat Lancashire was found guilty of fraud and acquiring criminal property.
He pleaded guilty to converting criminal property and was jailed for 18 months, suspended for a year.
Jonathan Kelleher of the CPS said: ‘These offenders used the internet from the comfort of their own homes to obtain tens of millions of pounds worth of Bitcoin which did not belong to them.
‘Cyber-enabled crime presents an increasing threat to international economic stability, as well as to honest individual investors in cryptocurrency.
‘The CPS advised our police partners throughout this international investigation.
‘Painstaking analysis of vast amounts of digital material and collaborative liaison with the Australian and Finnish authorities enabled us to mount a successful prosecution against these criminals.’
DS David Wainwright of Lancashire Police said: ‘This was a large and complex case in which these offenders have now been brought to justice.
‘I would like to thank everyone who worked as a team, together with our partner agencies, to achieve this successful outcome. For more on evDEN EVe naKliyaT visit our web-page. ‘
Det Sgt David Wainwright, of Lancashire Police’s Fraud Unit, said: ‘The scale of the fraud in this case is absolutely staggering and led to the suspects literally having more money than they could spend.
‘I would like to pay tribute to all the agencies who worked closely together to bring these people to justice.’