One of them tried to buy a villa from a pair of Russian gangsters with £1m stuffed into a briefcase
Jordan Robinson, Kelly Caton and Stephen Boys have all been jailed (Image: Lancashire Constabulary)
A Blackpool Bitcoin gang made so much money from an online scam, they handed out £5,000 gift vouchers to people in the street and bought cars for people they met in the pub.
James Parker began orchestrating the fraud from his Blackpool home in 2017 when he noticed a glitch in an Australian cryptocurrency trading website. It allowed him and his crooked pals to siphon off more than £20m worth of credits over a three-month period – which was then splurged on luxury items like designer watches and fancy wine coolers.
Stephen Boys, Jordan Robinson and Kelly Caton have all now been jailed for their roles in the conspiracy. James Auston-Beddoes was handed a suspended sentence.
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Parker’s corrupt financial adviser Boys, who earned the nickname ‘Del Boy’, like the character from Only Fools and Horses, helped launder the stolen funds. During the trial he told the court how he took £1,000,000 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 £22m, along with luxury watches, houses, cars and designer goods, including a £600 wine cooler, along with more than £1m in bank accounts. The assets will be returned to the victims.
Lancashire Police worked closely with international law enforcement, including in Australia and Finland, and the Crown Prosecution Service to bring the gang to justice.
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.”
James Parker died in 2021 before he could be prosecuted but the other fraudsters were convicted in 2022 and sentenced on Friday (January 13).
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.”
Boys, 59 of Winster Court, Clayton le Moors was sentenced to six years for converting criminal property. Robinson 24, of Poulton Road, Fleetwood received four-and-a-half years for conspiracy to commit fraud, two years for acquisition of criminal property and two years for converting criminal property.
Caton, 45, Livingstone Road, Blackpool received a sentence of four-and-a-half years for conspiracy to commit fraud, two years for acquisition of criminal property and two years for converting criminal property.
Auston-Beddoes 28, of Brighton Avenue, Lytham was given one-and-a-half years for conspiracy to commit fraud, as well as one year for acquisition of criminal property and one year for converting criminal property. His sentence has been suspected for 1 year.
- 16:44, 16 JAN 2023
- UPDATED16:46, 16 JAN 2023