5th Mar, 2021

Fraudster who targeted county's elderly jailed

Rob George 20th Jan, 2021

A FRAUDSTER who was among 16 individuals who committed nationwide telephone and courier fraud offences against the elderly and vulnerable, including some in Worcestershire has been jailed for six years.

Nuno Pestana was sentenced to six years during a hearing at Worcester Crown Court on Tuesday (January 19).

The sentencing was further to convictions during 2019 and 2020 and in total prison sentences totalling over 33 years, along with a number of suspended sentences, have now been handed out to the 16 defendants who formed part of this case.

The fraud offences took place between April and July 2016 across the force areas of Worcestershire, Warwickshire, Cumbria, West Midlands, Avon & Somerset, Gloucestershire and Thames Valley, when 50 victims, ranging from 49 to 96 years old, were called on their landline telephone numbers and asked to hand over money.

It was a persuasive scam that saw offenders purporting to be police officers investigating a fraud at a local banking branch.

Of the 50 victims targeted, 15 were persuaded to hand over money, with a total of over £200,000 being stolen.

Eight men were previously sentenced on 11 February 2019 at Worcester Crown Court to more than 21 years for their roles in the nationwide telephone and courier fraud scam. A further two men were sentenced on 25 June 2019, to eight months for their involvement in the scam, however their sentences were later varied upon appeal.

On the 21 and 22 December 2020 a further man and two women were sentenced to more than 6 years for their roles in the money laundering elements of the conspiracy. On the same dates two further men were given suspended sentences for being involved in money laundering arrangements linked to the fraud.

In addition to the sentence imposed this week, in December 2019, Worcester Crown Court had previously made five men subject of Confiscation Orders, under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.  This meant they have to pay back the money which they gained from the crimes committed. Even if they do not have the funds or assets to pay the money back now, the Order means that if they are found to have assets at any time in the future, they still have to pay back all they received from their crimes. Any monies they repay will be directed to the victims who have suffered losses as compensation.

On 29 January 2020 and 2 March 2020, at Worcester Crown Court, a further four men and one women were also made subject of a Confiscation Orders.

Nuno Pestana who is also known as Kevin Thomas, aged 41 years from London, played a leading role in arranging, transferring, receiving and dissipating funds through various bank accounts that had been obtained from vulnerable victims of the fraud. Pestana used his own accounts and recruited others to do the same. Upon sentencing, HHJ CARTWRIGHT described him as the “Head of Conspiracy” to launder money and commented that he lived a “champagne lifestyle”. Pestana pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Convert Criminal Property on 11th June 2018. He has also subsequently been convicted after trial, of two offences relating to using a mobile phone while in prison. Pestana used this mobile phone to continue his offending and arranging fraudulent transactions from inside a prison cell.

He was sentenced to six years in prison on Tuesday 19 January 2021. He was also made subject of a 5 year Serious Crime Prevention Order, which will prohibit him from certain activities and place certain restrictions upon him when he is released from prison, to prevent him from being able to commit further serious crime.

Det Insp Emma Wright said “The defendants in this case took large amounts of money from vulnerable people by abusing the trust those victims have in the police, posing as officers who told the victims they must co-operate with a police investigation. As highlighted by HHJ Cartwright during sentencing, this is the worst kind of fraud and Pestana was at the helm of organising those who would receive and transfer large amounts of money obtained from victims.

“These sentences recognise the life-changing amounts that were taken from some of these victims. Some of the defendants have already been made subject to Confiscation Orders and for others confiscation hearings will follow. This will mean the defendants will have to pay back the proceeds of their crimes, whether that is immediately or if they come to have further assets in the future.

“The convictions, Serious Crime Prevention Orders and subsequent confiscation orders in this case, are testament to a lengthy and thorough investigation, showing that West Mercia Police will pursue offenders who directly target the elderly and vulnerable, bringing them to justice and stripping them of any assets they have gained through crime. I hope this will deter other criminals who may be involved in these despicable offences, by showing that they will be convicted and have their ill-gotten gains removed.”

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