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Seven jailed after major £1m fraud operation is foiled

Added on 03 November 2017 at 22:05

A major £1 million nationwide investigation - which began as a fraud enquiry in Bristol - has resulted in seven people being jailed for more than 19 years.

The seven - all Romanian nationals – committed fraud and money-laundering offences. 

The sophisticated organised crime organisation-run operation was exposed by the South West Regional Organised Crime Unit (SW ROCU), after a reported fraud in the Hotwells area of Bristol, was investigated by Avon and Somerset Police. 

They referred the matter to the SW ROCU, who launched an investigation – Operation Akron. 

On 8 April this year three people were arrested  - Vasile Durescu (aged 28), Gabriel Anescu (aged 26) and Anca Ferraru (aged 28) – on suspicion of conspiracy to commit fraud and money-laundering. 

Vasile Durescu and Gabriel Asnescu were arrested at Manchester Airport after returning form Croatia. Anca Ferraru was arrested at her home in Leeds. 

Searches were carried out by SW ROCU detectives at the homes of the three which resulted in the seizure of false passports, cash and other financial evidence. A Mercedes car, worth more than £30,000 and other high value items belonging to Durescu was seized as evidence of money-laundering. 

Further investigation by the SW ROCU identified a sophisticated organised crime group involved in the setting up of mule bank accounts across the South West region and nationally, using false identities, which were then used to funnel criminal money obtained from on-line frauds. The group were believed to have defrauded victims of in excess of £1m. 

The SW ROCU investigation involved the support of a number of law enforcement agencies as well as the financial sector, working together to disrupt and dismantle organised crime groups. 

DI Pete Highway said: “This was a highly successful operation undertaken by the South West Regional Organised Crime Unit (SW ROCU). 

“It began with the arrest of three Romanian nationals on Saturday 8 April. They were arrested for conspiracy to commit fraud and money-laundering offences as part of the SW ROCU’s Operation Akron. 

“As our investigations developed, we were able identify a sophisticated organised crime group which involved the setting up of mule bank accounts across the South West and nationally using false identities, which were then used to funnel criminal money obtained from on-line frauds. 

“The investigation involved support and co-operation from a number of law enforcement agencies and the financial private sector, all working together to disrupt and dismantle the operation of this organised crime group.

“It began as a referral to the SW ROCU from Avon and Somerset Police following a reported fraud in the Hotwells area of Bristol,” said DI Highway. 

Sentencing details: 

Vasile Durescu, aged 28, of Woodlea Mount, Leeds jailed for five years. He will serve half the sentence and serve the remainder on licence. 

Gabriel Anescu, aged 27, of Woodlea Mount, Leeds, jailed for two years and four mouth. To serve half the sentence and the remainder on licence. 

Anca Ferraru, aged 28, of Woodlea Mount, Leeds, jailed for 18 months. To serve half and then remainder on licence. 

Mihai-Marian Zamfir, aged 25, of Thirlstone Avenue, Oldham, jailed for two years and seven months. To serve half and the remainder on licence. 

Liviu Tevelei, aged 32, of Thirlstone Avenue, Oldham, jailed for two years and eight months. To serve half and the remainder on licence. 

Ovidiu Florsescu, aged 27, of Ledbury Road, Peterborough, jailed for two years and four months. To serve half and remainder on licence. Additional three months to be served consecutively for drink driving. 

Marius-Constantin Cebuc, aged of 29, of Ledbury Road, Peterborough, jailed for two years and six months. To serve half and remainder on licence.