Brit Bitcoin scammers amassed £22m empire and handed out £5k gifts in streets

Scammers at the centre of a £22million Bitcoin scam have been jailed after splashing the cash in public.

Fraudsters handed out £5,000 gift cards to strangers in the street and bought cars for people they met in the pub, heard Preston Crown Court.

Now the criminals have been sentenced to a combined 15 years behind bars, as reports The Mirror.

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Ringleader James Parker, who masterminded the scam from his Blackpool home, died in 2021 before he could be brought to justice.

Over four months between October 2017 and January 2018, the fraudsters used a loophole to steal millions on Parker’s trading account on an Australian-based cryptocurrency exchange.

Parker’s corrupt financial adviser Stephen William Boys helped launder the stolen funds. Reports state he earned the nickname ‘Rodney’ after the Only Fools and Horses character.

The court heard how Boys took £1million in cash in a suitcase to buy a villa from Russians he met at an estate agents.

He also spent £60k paying off corrupt officials to help launder the stolen cash through foreign-based online accounts.

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Investigations recovered 445 Bitcoin – worth £22m at the time – along with luxury watches, houses, cars, designer goods and £1million kept in bank accounts.

Det Sgt David Wainwright, of Lancashire Police’s Fraud Unit, said: “The scale of the fraud, in this case, is absolutely staggering and led to the suspects literally having more money than they could spend."

A Crown Prosecution Service spokesman said: “A very 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.”

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Prosecutor Jonathan Kelleher added: “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.”

Boys, 59, of Clayton-le-Moors, was found guilty of converting and transferring criminal property and jailed for six years.

Kelly Caton, 45, of Blackpool, was found guilty of fraud and converting and acquiring criminal property and jailed for four-and-a-half years

Jordan Kane Robinson, 24, of Fleetwood, was found guilty of fraud and converting and acquiring criminal property, and also jailed for four-and-a-half years.

James Austin-Beddoes, 28, was found guilty of fraud and acquiring criminal property. He pleaded guilty to converting criminal property earlier and was jailed for 18 months, suspended for one year.

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