On 13 December 2018, three men of Ghanaian origins were sentenced at Southwark Crown Court for their part in a series of frauds.
The fraudsters created make-believe companies to apply for credit from well-known businesses, including American Express and Barclaycard.Luxury items purchased included over £126,000 worth of mobile phones and tablet devices plus Cartier and Rolex watches and items from Burberry.
The case was investigated by the City of London Police’s Fraud Squad following an initial report made to them by American Express.
The remaining three, who have been found guilty, will be sentenced in the New Year. The three men were sentenced as follows:
Marcus Carter, also known as Marcus Boahene-Coabbina, 38, who is currently serving a prison sentence at HMP Wandsworth for an unrelated matter, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud and conspiracy to acquire criminal property. He was sentenced to seven years and two months in prison. He has also been disqualified from being a company director for 12 years.
Jeffrey Spencer, also known as Victor Templar-Quarshie, 35 of Belgrave Road, South Norwood, London was found guilty of conspiracy to defraud, conspiracy to acquire criminal property and failing to disclose the PIN to his two mobile phones and was sentenced to nine years in prison. He has also been disqualified from being a company director for 12 years.
Frank Allan, also known as Frank Templar-Quarshie, 33 of Belgrave Road, South Norwood, London was found guilty of conspiracy to defraud, conspiracy to acquire criminal property, possession of a false identity document with improper intention and failing to disclose the PIN to his mobile phone and was sentenced to seven years and nine months in prison. He has also been disqualified from being a company director for 10 years.
Yaa Abrefa, 37 of Hythe Road, Thornton Heath, London, was found guilty of conspiracy to acquire criminal property.
Abena Amankwaa Frempong, 34 of Transmere Road, Petts Wood, London was found guilty of conspiracy to acquire criminal property.
Craig Apaw, 29 of Hazelbank Road, London was found guilty of possession of criminal property.
Between June 2014 and February 2016, the defendants would, using false documents, buy an inactive company name and appoint a fictitious director. Once the company had been formally established, fake back-dated accounts were submitted to Companies House which gave the impression that they had a very successful trading history and represented a low credit risk.
They would then make applications to their chosen credit card companies, who after carrying out the necessary checks, were reassured by the false information and approved a line of credit. This gave the fraudsters and their fraudulent companies access to a high credit limit. The suspects would then rapidly spend up to this limit, without making any repayments. This is known as short firm fraud.
The core offenders involved at every stage were Carter, Spencer and Allan. The investigation found that Abrefa, who is Carter’s ex-partner, aided him by allowing him to use her bank account and registering high-end designer watches, paid for with the proceeds, in her own name. Amankwaa Frempong, who is Carter’s ex-partner, would buy goods in her name with the fraudulently obtained cards, which he then exported back to Ghana. Apaw assisted Carter by collecting a £8,250 Rolex watch when Carter was in prison and passing this to Frempong, which she then pawned for cash.
This case was initially reported to the City of London Police as a case of a fraudulent application for, and subsequent use of, American Express corporate cards. When the investigation into this criminality started, a wider criminal network was uncovered.
The items that were bought included electronics, lease vehicles, and high-end watches, to the value of £945,936. The goods would then be delivered to virtual offices opened in the same fictitious details as the companies themselves. Once the goods were delivered, they were immediately removed and the suspects moved on.
The suspects also specifically targeted London-based private hire taxi company Addison Lee Group to make journeys which they failed to pay for. On uncovering this, Addison Lee Group were able to provide journey history and call recordings which showed the group’s whereabouts at given times and was a means of identifying the members.
Fraud Investigator and officer in charge of the case, Andy Cope, said:
“These three men thought they could get away with their devious crimes, however, the Fraud Squad’s investigation has uncovered the full extent of their complex fraudulent activity.”
“Today’s sentencing should serve as a warning to those who are thinking about committing similar offenses; this is not a victimless crime. We work tirelessly to pursue fraudsters to make sure that justice is served.”
“The POCA orders sought by the prosecution today will stop the offenders from being able to re-offend, and will remove any financial benefit they gained from the offending.”