Four offenders have been sentenced at Preston Crown Court for fraudulently obtaining and laundering Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency worth tens of millions of pounds from an Australia-based cryptocurrency exchange.
Stephen William Boys, 58, Kelly Caton, 44, Jordan Kane Robinson, 23, and James Austin-Beddoes, 27, were found guilty of fraud, converting and transferring criminal property at Preston Crown Court and sentenced to total of 15 years imprisonment.
All four were associates of James Parker, who masterminded the conspiracy from his home in Blackpool over a three-month period between October 2017 and January 2018. James Parker identified and then exploited a loophole on the cryptocurrency trading platform which allowed him and his associates to dishonestly obtain credits worth £21m at that time.
Over three months, Parker withdrew dishonestly obtained crypto assets worth £15 million from his trading account. His associates, Caton and Robinson, dishonestly withdrew £2.7 million and £1.7million respectively, from their accounts.
Parker’s financial adviser Boys worked with Hanza Moos Kambi, a UK national based in Dubai who was cleared of all charges, to convert the cryptocurrency into cash. It was then laundered through various foreign-based online accounts, so that the offenders could realise the benefits of their crime.
Parker died in January 2021 before he could be brought to justice. The Crown Prosecution Service Civil Recovery Unit worked with specialist officers from the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit to identify the assets obtained through his unlawful conduct, and to obtain a Civil Recovery Order in the High Court with the estimated value of nearly £1,000,000.
A significant amount of the laundered assets have been returned or are in the process of being recovered on the behalf of the Australian cryptocurrency exchange.
Jonathan Kelleher of the CPS said: “These offenders used the internet from the comfort of their own homes to obtain tens of millions of pounds worth of Bitcoin which did not belong to them. Cyber-enabled crime presents an increasing threat to international economic stability, as well as to honest individual investors in cryptocurrency.
“The CPS advised our police partners throughout this international investigation. Painstaking analysis of vast amounts of digital material and collaborative liaison with the Australian and Finnish authorities enabled us to mount a successful prosecution against these criminals.”
DS David Wainwright of the Lancashire Police added: “This was a large and complex case in which these offenders have now been brought to justice. I would like to thank everyone who worked as a team, together with our partner agencies, to achieve this successful outcome.”