£80,000 Holiday fraudster jailed after trying to Flee at UK Airport

£80,000 Holiday fraudster jailed after trying to Flee at UK Airport [Jonathan Richman]

The serial fraudster has been sentenced to a total of two years' imprisonment at Isleworth Crown Court

 

52 year old Jonathan Richman, of no fixed abode was sentenced to a total of two years' imprisonment at Isleworth Crown Court on Friday, 6 October having previously pleaded guilty to various fraud and money laundering offences totalling over £80,000.

 

He was arrested by police at Gatwick airport attempting to flee the country.

 

Richman posing as a travel agent carried out a number of frauds between 2011 and 2015, where he was dealing in last-minute holidays at low prices for his customers.

 

But unbeknown to his clients, Richman was paying for the holidays using fraudulent credit-cards, so his clients money going directly into accounts controlled by him - money which he would then withdraw as cash or spend on untraceable items.

 

Credit card companies later spotted the fraudulent payments and recovered the money, but it left the travel companies out of pocket of thousands of pounds.

 

Luckily, in some cases the fraud had been spotted early and Richman's customers got their holidays cancelled, but were left unable to get their money back from him.

 

Officers from the Met's Aviation Policing Command launched an investigation in September 2013.

 

Two people were arrested when returning from a holiday in Thailand at Heathrow Airport, suspected of purchasing their holiday using fraudulent credit card details, but it quickly became apparent they were victims of Richman's fraud.

 

Various enquiries were made to identify the man behind the fraudulent payments with Richman's true identity unknown to his clients and police at that stage.

Richman had set up a bank account in the name of Jamie Malcolm and linked address in Brighton. But when officers went there, they found it had been vacated.

 

Enquiries with the letting agent found a photocopy of a passport in the name of 'Jamie Malcolm' alongside Richman's photo.

However, this still did not help to establish his true identity or his whereabouts.

a photocopy of a passport in the name of 'Jamie Malcolm' alongside Richman's photo.

 

A breakthrough came in October 2014 when Richman called the Heathrow CID office and made threats against one of the investigating officers and his family telling him to 'leave [him] alone'.

 

Detectives managed to trace the mobile phone numbers used to make the calls, and link the numbers to Richman because of CCTV footage from a store in Brighton showed Richman purchasing the top-up card for the phone.

Richman because of CCTV footage from a store in Brighton showed Richman purchasing the top-up card for the phone.

 

Richman was found and arrested in February 2015 at an address in Brighton.

In a search of the address, officers found bank cards for accounts into which he was receiving payments for holidays from his 'clients'.

Officers also found a memory stick containing personal details of customers stolen in 2008 from Barclays - information that would be invaluable to fraudsters wanting to commit identity fraud-type offences.

 

The investigation also uncovered an additional fraud where Richman had contacted two companies posing as an employee in order to trick them into paying their salary into an account he controlled; succeeding in one attempt and failing in the other.

 

In total, officers identified around 16 victims - companies or people - who had fallen foul of Richman's scams.

 

Richman was first charged with fraud and malicious threatening phone calls he made to officers, and was convicted of these matters in March 2015 and sentenced to a total of four years' imprisonment.

 

Officers continued to investigate and the Crown Prosecution Service authorised additional charges of five counts of fraud, money laundering and possession of fraudulent documents (in relation to the fake passport), possession of articles for use in fraud (in relation to the memory stick with Barclays customer details) and one count of witness intimidation.

 

Richman was released on licence from prison in August 2016, but subsequently breached his licence and was on the run from police.

A warrant for his arrest was circulated and Richman was eventually arrested at Gatwick Airport on 28 August, attempting to board a flight to Morocco.

 

He was charged on 29 August with the additional offences, and pleaded guilty at Isleworth Crown Court on 27 September to three counts of fraud, money laundering and the possession of fraudulent documents and articles for use in fraud. Two counts of fraud and the witness intimidation charges are to lie on file.

 

Detective Sergeant Dave Bullamore, from the Met's Aviation Policing Command, said:

"Richman was carrying out these frauds effectively as a full time occupation. He went to great lengths to try and conceal his true identity, right from renting a flat under a false name to setting up fake bank accounts.

 

"But his arrogance proved to be his downfall when he called the detectives to threaten and warn them off from investigating him. After some fantastic detective work, we were finally able to match his face to his true identity and arrest him, and despite his attempts to go on the run and evade justice, he is now facing further time behind bars."

 

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