Gang found guilty of £800,000 fraud after being caught out by Highworth auction house (From Swindon Advertiser)
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Gang found guilty of £800,000 fraud after being caught out by Highworth auction house
THREE men have been convicted of an £800,000 fraud of more than 40 auction houses after a local auctioneer raised the alarm.
Last week at Isleworth Crown Court, Farouk Dougui, 39, of London and Jabey Alan Bathurst, 23, from Middlesex, were found guilty of conspiracy to defraud, while Simohamed Rahmoun, 30, of London, admitted his part in the conspiracy during the trial and was remanded in custody.
The six-week complex trial heard evidence against the defendants relating to a series of fraudulent transactions between May and November 2010.
The three offenders worked together in their plan to defraud by using foreign based fake credit cards to pay for valuable jewellery at a number of auction houses. They also purchased electrical goods and car parts.
By the time the victims became aware the cards were fake, the offenders had collected the items, worth many thousands of pounds.
Staff at Kidson-Trigg auctioneers, in Highworth, were the ones who spotted the fraudsters and called police.
A total of 43 separate companies across the UK were defrauded of more than £800,000, including businesses in Swindon, Salisbury, Corsham and Trowbridge.
Detective Constable Mandy Carver said: “My investigation highlighted victim after victim and the true extent of their fraudulent activity only became clear when I collated all the similar offences across the country and abroad.
“The offenders used their criminal activities to fund a lifestyle that was way beyond their legitimate means.
“Rahmoun was claiming benefit at the time of these offences.
“But he had high value cars at his disposal in Morocco and Spain, including a Bentley convertible, Audis and Mini Coopers.
“The group showed no remorse for the distress and financial difficulties they caused their victims.”
Dougui and Bathurst were remanded into custody and are due to appear at Isleworth Crown Court with Rahmoun for sentencing this week.
A fourth defendant, Barbara Ursula Goossens, 60, from London, was found not guilty of conspiracy to defraud.
Kidson-Trigg managing director Martin Kidson-Trigg said: “We started ringing other auctioneers and when we found out what had been going on we had to alert one or two people.
“Most regional auction houses were hit the same week.
“It has meant we have all had to tighten up our security procedures, in terms of credit card payments, identities of individuals and their ability to pay and also on deliveries.
“The detective, Mandy Carver, of Wiltshire Police, whom I referred the case to was the most diligent person in making sure these people were prosecuted.
“ She co-ordinated police forces across the country and even put off her retirement until it was finished.”