Ipswich/Spain Escort agency websites promised luxury dates, fraud trial told
WEBSITES used in a £5.7million internet fraud promised escorts could be wined and dined in luxury in the UK and abroad, a court heard.
Stuart Hughes, the senior Suffolk Trading Standards officer who led the investigation into the Spanish-based swindle, helped guide jurors through the sites while giving evidence at the trial of five people alleged to have been involved in escort agency and debt elimination scams.
The accused – Mark Bell, 41, of Westerfield; Colin Samuels, 61, of The Street, Redgrave, near Diss; Geraldine French, 60, of Lowestoft; former police detective Christopher Taylor, 57, of Wakefield; and Bradley Rogers, 29, of Malaga – have all denied conspiracy to defraud and money laundering charges.
The man behind the fraud, Anthony Muldoon, who was extradited back from Spain, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud at a previous hearing.
Yesterday, prosecutor Nic Lobbenberg and Mr Hughes explained the process for people signing up to be companions through more than a dozen internet escort sites.
Among the sites were Adorabelles, Candy Escorts, Beautiful Adults, Escortopia, Blue One, and European Escorts.
The Ipswich Crown Court jury heard they made claims about going racing at Ascot, overnight stays in Paris, attending lavish parties and worldwide travel including staying at five-star resorts.
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People were signposted to the websites by advertisements in national newspapers – the Daily Sport and Daily Star.
The websites stated if males or females signed up to be companions for clients they could earn upwards of £600 per date.
Mr Lobbenberg read from one site which stated: “You are not expected to have sex with clients.”
However, applicants were also told they could double or triple their earnings if they were prepared to work nationally or internationally. But, in order to register, people had to pay registration fees. The fraud came when the dates failed to materialise.
As part of the alleged frauds Bell is alleged to have laundered a total of £3,518,699 between August 2007 and April 2010.
French faces three money laundering allegations over a three-year period totalling £5,059,533.
Samuels is said to have put a total of £371,852 through EBA Ltd, a company of which he was a director, between November 2009 and November 2010.
Taylor is also said to have laundered money through his directorship with First Debt Recovery Ltd.
Rogers allegedly laundered £715,000 between October 2007 and September 2010.
The trial continues.