One of North Yorkshire County Council’s leading financial investigators has been short-listed for a national award for investigating financial crime in the county.
Jo Bramley, a senior financial investigator with the county’s trading standards service, is one of three finalists for the award which recognises the achievements of those who have made an outstanding individual contribution within the financial investigation field.
The Keith Hughes Awards for Excellence in Financial Investigation are open to all accredited financial investigators in the UK and awards can be given to an outstanding individual or team.
Jo was responsible for leading extensive and meticulous financial investigations in a case which resulted in the successful prosecution last July of a gang of seven at Teesside Crown Court. The gang, all family members, pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the elderly and vulnerable throughout the Yorkshire and Humber region between 2006 and 2010, and to associated money laundering offences.
The gang cold-called at the homes of victims and offered to carry out gardening and roofing work. In the majority of cases they grossly overcharged for work, claimed work had been done when it hadn’t and claimed work was required when it wasn’t. In a number of cases the gang repeatedly targeted the most vulnerable victims, many of whom suffered from dementia or other mental health issues.
As the majority of victims had paid monies by cheque, literally hundreds of cheques were traced into over 40 bank accounts held by the offenders.
As well as showing which members of the gang were involved in the money laundering, Jo’s investigative team revealed dozens of previously unidentified victims, including repeat victims who had paid the gang tens of thousands of pounds over a number of months. Information such as the age of the victims and the location where transactions had taken place was then used to build a detailed picture of the gang’s activities. To obtain this information, Jo used a variety of investigative tools provided to officers under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
The gang were charged with defrauding 81 victims of over £175,000 although the investigation showed there were many more victims, some of whom had died since the crimes were committed. Gang members were sentenced to a total of nearly 25 years.
Sentencing the case last summer Judge HHJ Crowson praised the nature of the investigation which he said had been a great comfort to victims. He said:
The case that was marshalled was of such strength and presented with such skilled use of the legislation that the defendants were forced to recognise the hopelessness of their situation.
County Councillor Chris Metcalfe, North Yorkshire’s executive member for Trading Standards said:
Jo’s performance in this case has been exemplary. This is a fantastic example of what can be achieved through the effective use of the tools granted to officers under the Proceeds of Crime Act and also through the dedication and commitment of staff like Jo to securing such important convictions. We are delighted Jo has been short-listed for this award and wish her all the best for the final on Monday 27th.
The awards will be presented at the Regional Asset Recovery Teams National Best Practice Event in Stratford-upon-Avon on Monday 27th February.