In a bid to escape the wall-to-wall World Cup rugby playing in our house at the moment (on the telly – not the actual matches), I watched a two-part documentary over the weekend called “Fraud Squad”. It was broadcast on ITV earlier this month, and it was really absorbing. In short, there’s a boiler room fraud masterminded by someone called George Abrue, and he has a network of cold-callers and launderers under his control, as well as his particularly daffy wife and mother-in-law. (I say daffy because the silly woman takes photos of all her luxury purchases and even a video of her fancy pad in Barcelona – on the phone that the police of course confiscate.)
What is depressing about it all is (a) the small amount of money recovered for victims (George cleverly spending it on lifestyle rather than assets), and (b) how difficult it would be to spot the laundering. As it’s an investment fraud, there’s very little cash: it’s mostly bank transfers. Although perhaps one might hope that the bank used by a 91-year old victim with a disabled wife might question the huge transfers… On the other hand, what is encouraging is how stupid the criminals are: they flaunt their profits and activities (one even sports a tattoo reading “Catholic Hustler”), and dob each other in at the first opportunity. Honour among thieves? Pah!
Both episodes are available on ITV Player for the next fortnight – here’s the link: http://www.itv.com/itvplayer/video/?Filter=269691