Specialist police unit targeted Peterborough fraudster as it helped seize more than £10m from criminals across region

A specialist police unit has helped seize more than £10m of assets from criminals across the region including a Peterborough man caught with other people’s bank details.

Wednesday, 22nd September 2021, 7:11 am
£10m of assets have been seized from convicted criminals.

More than £10 million worth of assets have been identified and seized from criminals in the eastern region, thanks to the work of the Eastern Region Specialist Operations Unit (ERSOU).

Drug dealers, organised crime group members and fraudsters are amongst some of those who have been made to pay for their illegal activities since the creation of ERSOU’s Asset Confiscation Enforcement (ACE) team.

In the last year alone, £2.2 million has been seized from such criminals thanks to the work of the ACE team.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The team was created in 2014 and carries out investigations into offenders once they have been sentenced, to ensure that they do not profit from their crimes and that they fulfil Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) confiscation orders made against them.

In some cases, the team will identify new assets that offenders have gained following their release from jail and enforce historic confiscation orders to ensure that the full amount is repaid – no matter how long ago the crime took place.

ERSOU’s Assistant Chief Constable, former Peterborough police commander, Dan Vajzovic said: “Our ACE team has worked incredibly hard since its creation to ensure that criminals operating in our region do not reap the reward from their illicit activities.

“To have now recovered more than £10 million is phenomenal and I’d like to thank all of the officers and staff who have played their part in helping reach this milestone.

“In the last 12 months alone, the team has seized more than £2 million of ill-gotten gains – hitting criminals where it hurts and ensuring that they do not profit from their actions. This should send a really strong message to others who are committing serious crime in the eastern region, that not only will you be caught, you will also be made to pay.

“No matter how much time has passed since the original offence has taken place, our officers and staff in the ACE team will be relentless in their pursuit for full justice.”

Bedfordshire Police is the host force for ERSOU. The Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Festus Akinbusoye, said: “We must keep sending out the strongest message that ‘crime does not pay’ which is why I am delighted with this fantastic milestone. Our Eastern Region Special Operations Unit is delivering for residents in the fight against organised crime gangs through the seizure and confiscation of assets.

“As a team, we are fully committed to stepping up our efforts against criminals in our region. We will come after them, pursue the strongest prison sentences, and then go further after the proceeds of their criminal activities.”

Some of the successes of the ACE team in the last seven years include:

- A man from Peterborough who was jailed for five years after being caught in possession of other people’s bank details. As part of his sentence, he was ordered to repay £293,000, but his only available amount was £96,000. After looking further into his finances, the ACE team found that he held equity in property, an Audi A5 worth £20,000 and cash in bank accounts. An uplift of £58,000 was then granted, with the amount to be distributed to his victims.

- A convicted fraudster repaying £87,000 to a 69-year-old victim, 11 years after the confiscation order was initially made, following an extensive investigation by the ACE Team to identify further assets held by the defendant.

- The ACE team oversaw the sale of two properties worth £838,400 linked to two Hertfordshire men who were jailed in June 2017 for the UK’s largest ever payroll fraud, in order to fulfil their confiscation orders.

- A man who was jailed for his part in a Cambridgeshire gang that supplied high purity cocaine and ecstasy to other gangs across the country was made subject to a confiscation order to recover the benefits of his criminal activity, thought to be worth £621,000. His assets at the time were valued at £65,200, however, financial investigators within the ACE team revisited the case and established he had further assets, including a pension policy and equity within a property. The original order was increased and he was ordered to repay an additional £253,000.

- ACE investigators supported the enforcement of a Confiscation Order which culminated with the seizure of two Dubai apartments that had been purchased from the proceeds of drug trafficking, in relation to a man who had been convicted of drug trafficking and firearms offences in Bedfordshire. The ACE team worked alongside the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to identify the foreign assets and repatriate the proceeds from their sale in a complex and ground-breaking case totalling £481,834.28 in seized funds.