Ashley Marlon Thompson, 26, of Margery Street in London was yesterday (June 8) sentenced at the Inner London Crown Court for money laundering and fraud by false representation.
Early in summer 2021, North Yorkshire Police received reports of victims who had been targeted by courier fraud scam where criminals call an individual claiming to be from the police and informs them their accounts have been compromised.
The individual is usually advised to go to the bank and withdraw all their money in cash which will then be picked up by a ‘police courier’ for safekeeping.
In a twist to this crime, two victims were told to purchase gold bullion with money from their bank accounts and then the gold was collected by the ‘couriers’ to be kept safe.
North Yorkshire Police continued to investigate this fraud which had led to two elderly victims spending over £450,000 in gold bullion and losing their entire life savings.
Officers from the Economic Crime Unit worked with the gold dealers where the bullion had been purchased to raise awareness of this crime and put other dealers on notice to watch out for suspicious gold sales.
On November 9 2021, officers quite literally ‘struck gold’ when they were alerted that a man, Thompson, had tried to sell one of the gold bullion bars in a London pawnbroker.
Working with the City of London Police, two North Yorkshire Police officers travelled to London to arrest him and he was subsequently charged with Fraud and Money Laundering offences.
In interview, Thompson claimed he had hired a lock-up storage facility and that he had found the gold bar in a bag of tools but had no idea who owned it.
He said he had waited to see if anyone claimed it but when no one did, he decided to try and pawn it for cash.
The investigating officers found that Thompson had created fake documents to prove the lock-up facility existed, when in reality it did not.
North Yorkshire Police Detective Constable Neil Brodhurst, from the force’s Economic Crime Unit, led the investigation.
He said: “Throughout the trial, Thompson denied any knowledge of the gold bar’s origin, sticking to his story that he had simply found it in a bag of tools.
"He also couldn’t explain why he’d gone to the lengths of faking a hire contract for a non-existent lock-up facility to show the pawnbroker.
“The two victims of this courier fraud were absolutely devastated by it.
"They were groomed over a period of several months with their trust and good nature callously exploited to the extent that they lost their entire life savings to someone claiming to be a police officer.
“We unfortunately see courier fraud targeting North Yorkshire residents time and time again and I’d like to take this opportunity to issue another warning about it.
"The fraudsters use incredibly calculated and manipulative tactics to convince their victims that they are legitimate police officers or bank officials and will keep going until they get what they want.
“Remember, the police or your bank will NEVER contact you and ask you to move or transfer money and will definitely never ask you to purchase high value items or to hand over your bank cards.
"Please be on your guard and share this warning with your friends, family and networks.
“This type of crime is the highest priority for North Yorkshire Police and I hope that Thompson’s sentence sends a powerful message to criminals that we will pursue you wherever you are.
“We’re very grateful to the pawnbrokers and gold dealers who alerted us to the criminal activity and gave us the opportunity to act, as well as to our colleagues at the City of London Police for their support in arresting Thompson.
“This investigation is the culmination of more than a year’s hard work and dedication from the team in our Economic Crime Unit and I hope Thompson’s sentence will serve as some closure for our victims.”
Thompson pleaded guilty to one count of fraud by false representation and was found guilty of money laundering.
He received a 15 month prison sentence for money laundering and a concurrent 6 month sentence for fraud by false representation.