Ipswich/Spain: Five deny escort agency and debt elimination scams worth £5.7million

Mark Bell

Mark Bell - Credit: Archant

FOUR men and a woman were involved in international escort agency and debt elimination frauds which swindled victims out of £5.7 million, a court heard.

Bradley Rogers

Bradley Rogers - Credit: Archant

Mark Bell, 41, of Westerfield Road, Ipswich, Colin Samuels, 61, of The Street, Redgrave, near Diss, Geraldine French, 60, of Lowestoft, Christopher Taylor, 57, of Oxford Road, Wakefield, and Bradley Rogers, 29, of Malaga have all pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to defraud and money laundering charges.

Christopher Taylor leaving Ipswich Crown Court.

Christopher Taylor leaving Ipswich Crown Court. - Credit: Archant

Ipswich Crown Court heard victims in the UK were fleeced by call centres based in Spain and Turkey, although those duped believed they were dealing with businesses in Britain.

Colin Samuels

Colin Samuels - Credit: Archant

Two separate frauds were in operation.

The jury was told one promised around £600 a day and two local dinner dates a week.

The other pledged to eliminate consumers’ debts for a fee charged to their credit cards.

Bell is alleged to have laundered a total of £3,518,699 between August 2007 and April 2010 when he was either a director or company officer of four businesses.

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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 he was a director of, between November 2009 and November 2010.

Taylor, a former police officer, 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.

Outlining the case prosecutor Nic Lobbenberg told the court: “It’s about consumers in this country being conned out of about £5.7million.”

“The organiser of this fraud is a man called Tony Muldoon.”

The court heard consumers would register with various escort agencies and promised they would be offered dinner dates.

Money would be taken only when the first date was arranged.

However, this would subsequently be cancelled and victims would be told they would be contacted when another date was to be arranged. But they never were.

“It was a complete scam”, said Mr Lobbenberg.

Multiple businesses were set up for short periods for the monies to be paid into. On some occasions other established business were used.

The money was then filtered back to Spain, where Muldoon headed up the operation.

The second fraud related to the promise of people’s debts being eliminated - a promise “that simply doesn’t exist”, the court was told.

Mr Lobbenberg said: “At the helm of this conspiracy is Mr Muldoon. He was resident in Spain and was at the centre of these conspiracies. He operated the call centres. He was the organiser and the controlling mind.

“He has pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to defraud.”

Bell was alleged to have been Muldoon’s confederate in this country, moving between the UK and Spain.

Mr Lobbenberg said Bell had been described by Muldoon as his UK partner.

French was said to have been based largely in Spain and took on the role of administrator. She is accused of having knowledge of the bank accounts which were used in the UK and in Spain.

French was said to have moved the money around and passed on instructions.

Mr Lobbenberg said: “Her role was essentially for the smooth running of the fraud.”

Rogers was alleged to have been Muldoon’s right-hand man in Spain controlling the day-to-day operations.

The case continues.