Four offenders were sentenced today (13 January 202) for fraudulently obtaining and laundering Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency worth tens of millions of pounds from an Australia-based cryptocurrency exchange.
Stephen William Boys, 58, Kelly Caton, 44, Jordan Kane Robinson, 23, and James Austin-Beddoes, 27, were found guilty of fraud, converting and transferring criminal property at Preston Crown Court and then sentenced to a total of 15 years.
All four were associates of James Parker, who masterminded the conspiracy from his home in Blackpool over a three-month period between October 2017 and January 2018. James Parker identified and then exploited a loophole on the cryptocurrency trading platform which allowed him and his associates to dishonestly obtain credits worth £21 million at that time.
Over three months, James Parker withdrew dishonestly obtained crypto assets worth £15 million from his trading account. His associates, Caton and Robinson, dishonestly withdrew £2.7 million and £1.7million respectively, from their accounts.
James Parker’s financial adviser Boys worked with Kambi, a UK national based in Dubai, to convert the cryptocurrency into cash. It was then laundered through various foreign based online accounts, so that the offenders could realise the benefits of their crime.
In January 2021, James Parker died before he could be prosecuted and brought to justice. The Crown Prosecution Service Civil Recovery Unit worked with specialist officers from the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit to identify the assets obtained through his unlawful conduct, and to obtain a Civil Recovery Order in the High Court with the estimated value of nearly £1,000,000.
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.
Jonathan Kelleher of the CPS said: “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. Cyber-enabled crime presents an increasing threat to international economic stability, as well as to honest individual investors in cryptocurrency.
“The CPS advised our police partners throughout this international investigation. Painstaking analysis of vast amounts of digital material and collaborative liaison with the Australian and Finnish authorities enabled us to mount a successful prosecution against these criminals.”
DS David Wainwright of the Lancashire Police said: “This was a large and complex case in which these offenders have now been brought to justice. I would like to thank everyone who worked as a team, together with our partner agencies, to achieve this successful outcome.”
Notes to editors
- Jonathan Kelleher is the Specialist Prosecutor for the CPS Serious Economic Organised and International Directorate (SEOCID)
- Andrew Logan is the Specialist Prosecutor for CPS Civil Recovery Unit within the CPS Serious Economic Organised and International Directorate (SEOCID)
- The proceeds of crime can be recovered in civil proceedings in the High Court against property which can be shown to be the proceeds of crime. Civil Recovery can be used when it is not possible to obtain a conviction, or a conviction is obtained but a confiscation order is not made, or the public interest will be better served by using civil recovery rather than by seeking a confiscation order. This will include where suspects have gone abroad to escape an investigation, or the offending has taken place overseas so it cannot be prosecuted in UK courts
- SEOCID was launched on 1 April 2022 and is the CPS response to the changing nature of crime by bringing together specialists in organised and economic crime as the lines in this criminality is being blurred even more
- Stephen William Boys (DOB:12/07/1968) found guilty to two counts of converting and transferring criminal property and was sentenced to six years imprisonment
- Kelly Caton (DOB: 29/10/1977) found guilty to two counts of fraud, three counts of converting and transferring criminal property and was sentenced to four and half years
- Jordan Kane Robinson (DOB: 31/08/1998) found guilty to two counts of fraud, three counts of converting and transferring criminal property and was sentenced to four and half years
- James Austin-Beddoes (DOB: 25/07/1994) found guilty to two counts of fraud, two counts of acquiring criminal property. He pleaded guilty to a count of converting criminal property earlier and was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment suspended 12 months and 20 days rehab activity