Stephen William Boys, 58, Kelly Caton, 44, Jordan Kane Robinson, 23, and James Austin-Beddoes, 27, fraudulently obtained and laundered £21m worth of Bitcoin as part of a conspiracy masterminded by their friend James Parker, 52, who died before the case went to court.
They were found guilty of a string of fraud charges following a five-week trial at Preston Crown Court on Friday, July 22.
A fifth defendant, Hanza Moos Kambi, 34, of Moulins Road, London, was cleared of all counts.
Between October 2017 and January 2018, Parker, from Blackpool, found a loophole in a company called Coinspot, which he used to 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.
Boys, Parker’s financial adviser, worked with Hanza Moos 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 reap the benefits of their crime.
While staying at a room at the North Euston Hotel in Fleetwood, Parker bought a fleet of Mercedes cars for the use of his friend.
Caton, meanwhile, bought £250,000 worth of shopping vouchers. When Coinspot contacted her about the fraud and asked her to return what she had dishonestly obtained through an account Parker had set up for her, she refused and accused the company of blackmailing her.
Jonathan Kelleher of the Crown Prosecution Service, 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.”
A significant amount of the laundered assets have been returned or are in the process of being recovered on the behalf of Coinspot.
DS David Wainwright of 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.”
Gang found guilty on 15 separate charges
Stephen William Boys, of Winster Court, Accrington – guilty to two counts of converting and transferring criminal property
Kelly Caton, of Livingston Road, Blackpool – guilty to two counts of fraud, three counts of converting and transferring criminal property
Jordan Kane Robinson, of Poulton Road, Fleetwood – guilty to two counts of fraud, three counts of converting and transferring criminal property
James Austin-Beddoes, of Brighton Avenue, Blackpool – guilty to two counts of fraud, two counts of acquiring criminal property. He pleaded guilty to a count of converting criminal property.
They will be sentenced at Preston Crown Court on September 9 2022.