Members of an organised crime group behind a £20m scam to defraud major retailers out of goods have received prison sentences.
Greater Manchester Police's Fraud Investigation Unit launched Operation Component in 2009 to target a criminal network suspected of fraudulently hijacking the corporate identities of fast food giant McDonalds and Greggs the bakery.
The fraudsters set up bogus email addresses but used the names of genuine employees of both firms, and in doing so were able to fraudulently obtain credit and millions of pounds worth of goods from a number of major suppliers. They ordered goods and arranged for them to be delivered to addresses in Manchester and Cheshire, where the goods were collected but never paid for. Only a fraction of the goods fraudulently stolen have ever been recovered.
In total, 13 companies fell victim to the scam, recording losses of around £3 million. As many as 80 companies were affected but a number of them became suspicious and cancelled the orders, avoiding a further £17 million worth of losses. One company – Celltec Limited – went into liquidation as a result of over £400,000 in losses because of the fraud, resulting in 40 redundancies.
At Manchester Crown Court yesterday, Kevin Pomeroy was sentenced to a total of eight and a half years in prison, James Chapman to three years, Daniel Pomeroy (Kevin Pomeroy's nephew) to three and a half years which includes an 18-month sentence for a separate fraud offence, and Julie Pomeroy (Kevin Pomeroy's wife) to 12 months, suspended for two years, and ordered to undertake 150 hours unpaid work.
Kevin and Julie Pomeroy used the crime proceeds to fund a lavish lifestyle which included a plush home in Oldham, a rented holiday home in Spain, purchasing jewellery and rare and expensive sports memorabilia, dental veneers, high-powered cars and extravagant amounts of money spent on christening and other events.
Senior Investigating Officer DCI Dave Pester, 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 £3m worth of goods, and if they had succeeded with every fraud would have pocketed just shy of £20m 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. Not only that but it feeds the black market which puts genuine retailers out of business as these goods find their way into peoples homes."
DCI Pester continued: "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."