North West Regional Organised Crime Unit

Wirral woman sentenced after committing publishing fraud of £131,000

Thu 18th, Jan

A Wirral woman has been sentenced to a two year suspended sentence plus two years supervision and 200 hours community service for money laundering a fraudulent trading at Liverpool Crown Court on Tuesday 16 January.

Isabelle Elbay, aged 34 years, from Ringwood in Oxton was sentenced following an investigation into Elbay running two sole trader businesses identified as Highfield House and Specialist Media Group, which were set up to defraud customers into thinking they were buying advertisement in a community magazine distributed widely.

It was suspected that sales representatives from the companies cold called other companies offering advertising space which support the emergency services.  The complainants were informed that the magazines were circulated and distributed widely within their local community and to the emergency services personnel.  those companies successfully 'canvassed' were later invoiced for payment with attached artwork for the suggested advertisement in a non-existent magazine.

On Monday 20 November 2017 Elbay entered guilty pleas to two counts of money laundering and two counts of fraudulent trading and was sentenced on Tuesday 16 January 2018.

Detective Sergeant Paul Kay from Merseyside Police Economic Crime team said: "This fraud cost the victims in the region of £130,000 and led to a great deal of distress and inconvenience to the victims. We will always act on information about fraud and the laundering of criminal funds to bring offenders to justice. Victims may sometimes feel embarrassed about coming forward but I want to reassure people that we will treat any allegations with sensitivity and compassion, through specialist officers and alongside our partners.

“If you have, or are being subjected to fraud, or feel like you, or someone you care for, is being scammed, please get in touch.”

Detective Sergeant Kay also issued this advice to help prevent others from falling prey to fraud:

• Be suspicious – Treat unexpected communications with suspicion, even if they're not asking for money. Always ask for identification before letting anyone into your home, and call the company they say they're from to check who they are. Don't ring a phone number on an ID card – look up the company in the phone book instead. A legitimate tradesperson won't mind you doing this

• Take your time – Don't let scammers pressure you into buying anything or making decisions on the spot. Ask for time to consider and check the accuracy of what you've been told

• Seek expert advice – If someone you don't know offers you an investment opportunity that sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Always speak to an independent financial adviser before making any investment. You can also check with the Financial Conduct Authority to see if a company is registered.

• Be cautious when buying online or over the phone – Use a credit card rather than a direct bank transfer to pay for things like goods and holidays, as you'll be more protected as a consumer if anything goes wrong

• Create strong passwords – Strong passwords for your online accounts will make it more difficult for hackers and scammers to access them. Stringing together three random words can create a strong and memorable password. You can also use a mix of numbers, lower and upper case letters, and punctuation. Make sure you have different passwords for all online accounts

• Don’t give out personal or financial details – Whether over the phone, via email, or in person, don't give any personal information out until you've confirmed that the person getting in touch is genuine. If you're not sure, don't risk it

• Don’t transfer money to someone you don't know – Don't transfer money from your account to a new or unfamiliar account, even if the person calling or emailing says it's to protect your money or the account is in your name. Never send money to someone you've only met online, no matter how much you feel you can trust them

• Don’t call back unknown numbers – If you get a missed call from a number starting 070 or 076, don't call back as you may be charged a very high rate for making the call. They might look like mobile numbers but are actually premium rate numbers

• Don’t Give out your PIN – The bank and police will never ask for your PIN. The same goes for your card or cheque book, so don't hand these over to anyone who calls or comes to your door to ask for them

• Don’t feel ashamed if you do get scammed – Remember, anyone can be the victim of a scam, no matter what their age, background or income. If you have been scammed, it can be very distressing, but don't feel embarrassed: you're the victim of a crime and it's important that you report it and get any support you might need.

Anyone who is concerned that they may be a victim of this type of crime can contact Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

For advice on dealing with uninvited rogue traders, or bogus callers, to your home, you can contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0345 404 0506

If you’re suspicious, or think you have been a victim of a scam, call the Action Fraud helpline on 0300 123 2040.