Scam gang sentenced after BBC probe

From BBC - February 9, 2018

Five men who helped launder more than 1.2m stolen by cold-callers who phoned a BBC reporter have been sentenced.

City of London Police launched their own probe into the "boiler room" gold scam in 2013 after an investigation by BBC Radio 4's You and Yours.

Fraud reporter Shari Vahl met the scammers who were posing as a company offering investments in gold.

Police have praised her "endeavour and hard work", which helped them uncover the full extent of the fraud.

The men, who helped launder the money stolen by the scammers, were given sentences ranging from two-and-a-half years in prison to 12 months' community service.

They had all opened bank accounts to launder money received from victims.

'Guaranteed returns'

Many of the cold calls came from a company called Demmore Ltd, not to be confused with companies of a similar name.

The firm claimed to be based in Hatton Garden in London and offered huge profits through leasing gold to corporate clients.

But when Demmore Ltd called investigative journalist Shari Vahl, who has reported on fraud for 15 years, she recognised the call as a scam immediately.

She then secretly recorded his conversations with her.

"It is really a thriving market. It outperforms most bank-based investments and underperforming stocks and shares," he told Vahl.

He added: "I can guarantee you 15% returns in 60 days."

Claiming she had money to invest, Vahl arranged to meet one of the "brokers", who called himself "James Harper".

He claimed Boots and Whole Foods were business clients, but both companies said they had nothing to do with Demmore.

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