A highly sophisticated organised crime gang from Manchester who made an ‘eye-watering’ amount of money hijacking the identities of large companies to fund their lives of luxury were jailed yesterday.
The group made around £3million by posing as employees of firms such as McDonald’s and Greggs to obtain credit and order goods which were delivered to addresses in Manchester and Cheshire.
The police investigation culminated with a high-speed car chase where Kevin and Daniel Pomeroy drove at more than 100mph on the hard shoulder of the motorway in their flash Range Rover to try and evade capture.
They didn’t have any problem spending their criminal gains – purchasing a plush home in Failsworth, a rented holiday home in Spain, jewellery, rare sports memorabilia and high-powered cars.
Despite targeting large corporations, this was no Robin Hood scam – Celltec Ltd was forced to fire 40 staff when it went into liquidation after losing £400,000.
In total, 13 companies fell victim to the fraudsters, but as many as 80 were targeted.
It was only when a number of them sensed something was wrong they cancelled the orders which could have made the gang £20million altogether.
Yesterday three ring-leaders James Chapman, 22, of Sycamore Avenue, Chadderton, Daniel Pomeroy, 25, of Oldham and his uncle Kevin Pomeroy, 47 were jailed for a total of 15 years at Manchester Crown Court.
Kevin’s wife Julie Pomeroy, 38, of Stamford Drive, Failsworth pleaded guilty to money laundering and was sentenced to 12 months, suspended for two years, and given 150 hours community service.
Detective Chief Inspector Dave Pester, Senior Investigating Officer, said: “One of the biggest problems facing the UK right now is this sort of impersonation or hijacking of corporate identities, which is costing the economy millions of pounds every year.
“This organised crime group successfully obtained £3million worth of goods, and if they had succeeded with every fraud would have pocketed just shy of £20million worth.
“That is a staggering amount and if you consider this sort of scam could be happening across the UK, the cost to the economy is eye-watering.”
CRIMINAL GAINS: Apartment in Spain and signed Ryan Giggs shirt
The police launched Operation Component in 2009 to target a criminal network they suspected of hijacking corporate identities.
The gang started impersonating employees of McDonald’s in 2008, calling retailers such as HMV and Alba to order bulk quantities of electronic goods including plasma TV’s and games consoles which they claimed would be installed in restaurants across the country.
Thousands of bottles of whiskey ‘to reward McDonald’s employees’ were ordered, collected at storage facilities and then sold on the black market.
By 2010, the group had switched their attention to impersonating employees from Greggs, and used the same scam to fraudulently obtain goods such as more whiskey and coffee making machines.
Before they were arrested in Oldham, the police car’s CCTV captured items thrown from the window of their speeding Range Rover which turned out to be a mobile phone and SIM card containing details of numerous scams.
While the case reads like a Hollywood script, Detective Chief Inspector Pester commented on the impact the fraud had on ‘genuine retailers’ who were drawn in by the prospect of dealing with national financially sound, or ‘blue-chip’ companies.
He said: “It feeds the black market which puts genuine retailers out of business as these goods find their way into people’s homes.
“This gang went to meticulous lengths to research genuine employees of blue-chip firms and present a veneer of respectability.
“Using extremely plausible scenarios, they fooled a number of companies who had no reason to suspect the orders were anything other than legitimate.
“Sadly, some of the companies who were scammed did not do enough research once the fraudulent orders were placed and were taken in by the promise of a big pay day thinking they were dealing with such blue-chip companies.
“We would therefore urge any businesses who receive such orders to know your customers. In times of austerity, you cannot afford to fall victim to this sort of scam so please, do your research before you commit to anything.”
Kevin Pomeroy was sentenced to eight and a half years in prison after pleading guilty to two counts of conspiracy to defraud and one count of money laundering.
James Chapman was sentenced to three years after pleading guilty of two counts of conspiracy to defraud.
Daniel Pomeroy went on the run to Ireland following the car chase but was recaptured by police and sentenced to three and a half years, which includes an 18 month sentence for a separate fraud offence, after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud.