Suffolk: Two accused of internet fraud have some charges thrown out
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Two Suffolk men accused of being involved in international escort agency and debt elimination frauds which swindled victims out of £5.7million have had some of the charges against them thrown out by a judge.
Mark Bell, 41, of Westerfield Road, Ipswich, was facing four offences of money-laundering involving more than £3.5m between 2007 and 2010 but yesterday Ipswich Crown Court judge Rupert Overbury directed the jury to return not-guilty verdicts on three of the charges involving a total of nearly £1.6m.
Bell now faces a single money -laundering charge involving £1.9m and two charges of conspiracy to defraud. He has denied all the charges.
Colin Samuels, 61, of The Street, Redgrave, near Diss, had denied two money-laundering offences involving a total of £371,852 but yesterday had one of the charges involving £69,000 thrown out after Judge Overbury directed the jury to return a not-guilty verdict.
He now faces a single money-laundering charge involving £302,375 and two offences of conspiracy to defraud, which he has denied.
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Also before the court are Geraldine French, 60, of Lowestoft; Christopher Taylor, 57, of Oxford Road, Wakefield; and Bradley Rogers, 29, of Malaga, who have all denied conspiracy to defraud and money-laundering charges.
It has been alleged that victims in the UK were fleeced by call centres based in Spain and Turkey, although they believed they were dealing with businesses in Britain.
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The jury was told that in one of the alleged frauds customers who registered with various escort agencies were promised around £600 a day for dinner dates which never materialised and the other pledged to eliminate consumers’ debts for a fee charged to their credit cards.
Prosecutor Nic Lobbenberg told the court the frauds were organised by a man called Tony Muldoon, who lives in Spain, who has pleaded guilty to two offences of conspiracy to defraud. Giving evidence yesterday Bell told the court he had met Muldoon while he was working in Spain and considered him to be trustworthy.
He had agreed to set up a company and two bank accounts in the UK for Muldoon in 2007 and had seen nothing wrong in what he was being asked to do.
He said when he discovered that people who had registered with escort agencies run by Muldoon had dates cancelled he had been shocked. “I feel terrible and devastated that people were treated like that and were being used by Tony,” said Bell.
He said if he had known the true position he wouldn’t have got involved.
The trial continues.