Ex-fraud officer in £5.7m con is jailed

A gang led by a timeshare conman and including a police fraud officer has been jailed after defrauding 17,300 victims.

The group, set up by Costa Del Sol-based Antoni Muldoon, ran an network of bogus companies, duping people into signing up for non-existent escort work or fake debt elimination schemes.

They made £5.7m, most of which funded Muldoon’s luxury lifestyle in Spain, including a 10-bedroom villa and a boat. The 66-year-old recruited six others, including former West Yorkshire Police fraud specialist Detective Sergeant Christopher Taylor.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Prosecutor Nicholas Lobbenberg told Ipswich Crown Court: “This was consistent, professional criminal fraud perpetrated by a large number of companies and taking in a large number of victims.”

The court heard the escort scam offered work through a network of websites and newspaper adverts.

After paying a registration fee of between £250 and £400, no work would materialise. Some 14,000 people were enticed to register.

The debt scam took in 3,300 victims who were falsely told credit deals could be written off for a fee between £540 and £2,000.

Muldoon, previously convicted in Spain for a timeshare fraud targeting Britons between 2000 and 2001, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud and money laundering at an earlier hearing. Jailing him for seven years and five months, Judge Rupert Overbury said he was a “thoroughly dishonest, manipulative and mean individual”.

He added: ““Antoni Muldoon was the architect but each of you in your own way played vital roles without which these schemes could not have succeeded.”

Most of the proceeds went to Muldoon with his accomplices receiving less depending on their place in the “pecking order”, Mr Lobbenberg said.

Taylor, who had experience of international fraud cases, said he profited by about £900,000.

Alex Dos Santos, mitigating, said Taylor had operated an otherwise legitimate debt recovery company and allowed his bank accounts to be used.

“There has been a great reputational fall and the significance of his former career as a police officer has meant the time he has spent in custody has been difficult for him,” he said.

Taylor, 57, of Oxford Road, Wakefield, and Bradley Rogers, 29, from Malaga, were found guilty of money laundering but cleared of conspiracy to defraud following a 10-week trial.

Taylor was jailed for three years and six months while Rogers will serve two years and 10 months.

Mark Bell, 41, from Westerfield, near Ipswich, Colin Samuels, 62, of Redgrave, Suffolk, and Geraldine French, 60, from Spain, were each found guilty of two counts of conspiracy to defraud.

Bell was sentenced to six years and six months, Samuels to five years and six months and French to six years and five months.

Jeffrey Owens, 64, of Colyford, Devon, had already admitted money laundering and was given a 12-month sentence suspended for two years.