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Howard and Byrne Solicitors, York - Criminal Defence Specialists

Financial crime buster Jo is national winner

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1:28pm 28th February 2012

One of North Yorkshire County Council’s leading financial investigators has won a prestigious national award for investigating financial crime in the county.

Jo Bramley, a senior financial investigator with the county’s trading standards service, won the accolade for her outstanding achievements within the financial investigation field.

North Yorkshire is the only county in the country to have received this top award twice which was presented in Stratford-upon-Avon last night. Nominations from a wide range of government departments and law enforcement agencies were submitted for the awards. North Yorkshire trading standards officer Ruth Andrews was judged the outstanding winner for the award in 2010, for her work with the victims of fraud and doorstep crime. Ruth has now become a leading officer for local authorities in using and promoting financial investigation. 

The Keith Hughes Awards for Excellence in Financial Investigation recognises the achievements of those who have made an outstanding contribution in the field of financial investigation for fighting crime

James Brokenshire, MP, Minister for Crime and Security said: “The nominations for the Keith Hughes Awards get stronger and stronger each time and this year has been no exception.  It shows that law enforcement really is making an impact when it comes to taking the profit out of crime, and the hard work, determination and dedication that investigators and prosecutors are prepared to put in to get such fantastic results.”

Jo was responsible for leading extensive and meticulous financial investigations in a case which resulted in the successful prosecution last July of a gang of seven at Teesside Crown Court. The gang, all family members, pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the elderly and vulnerable throughout the Yorkshire and Humber region between 2006 and 2010, and to associated money laundering offences.

The gang cold-called at the homes of victims and offered to carry out gardening and roofing work. In the majority of cases they grossly overcharged for work, claimed work had been done when it hadn’t and claimed work was required when it wasn’t. In a number of cases the gang repeatedly targeted the most vulnerable victims, many of whom suffered from dementia or other mental health issues.

As the majority of victims had paid monies by cheque, literally hundreds of cheques were traced into over 40 bank accounts held by the offenders.

County Councillor Chris Metcalfe, North Yorkshire’s executive member for Trading Standards said:

“Jo’s performance in this case has been exemplary.  We are delighted with her award which is very well deserved and puts North Yorkshire on the map for excellence in this field. This is a fantastic example of what can be achieved through the effective use of the tools granted to officers under the Proceeds of Crime Act and also through the dedication and commitment of staff like Jo to securing such important convictions.”

As well as showing which members of the gang were involved in the money laundering, Jo’s investigative team revealed dozens of previously unidentified victims, including repeat victims who had paid the gang tens of thousands of pounds over a number of months. Information such as the age of the victims and the location where transactions had taken place was then used to build a detailed picture of the gang’s activities.  To obtain this information, Jo used a variety of investigative tools provided to officers under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

The gang were charged with defrauding 81 victims of over £175,000 although the investigation showed there were many more victims, some of whom had died since the crimes were committed. Gang members were sentenced to a total of nearly 25 years.

Sentencing the case last summer Judge HHJ Crowson praised the nature of the investigation which he said had been a great comfort to victims.  He said the case that was marshalled “was of such strength and presented with such skilled use of the legislation that the defendants were forced to recognise the hopelessness of their situation.”

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