A prolific conman who ran a UK-wide publishing scam selling fake advertising space for non-existent magazines has been jailed for over eight years following a joint Met and Merseyside Police investigation.
Peter Edward Daly, 39 (15.06.1979), of West Kirby, Merseyside, was sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court on 29 January for eight counts of fraud having changed his plea to guilty during a trial.
The court heard that between October 2011 and June 2016, Daly cheated around 2,500 small businesses across the UK out of over £2million by cold-calling and offering advertising space for a few hundred pounds a time in various mocked-up magazines, some dubbed ‘Crime and Security Journal’, ‘Front Line’ and ‘Fire and Safety Magazine’.
Daly pretended to the victims that these were quarterly publications sent to emergency services locations and medical facilities.
Upon agreeing to advertise in the magazines many of the victims would be duly invoiced, often on the same day, and given a publication date upon payment. When the date of publication came and copies of the publications did not arrive, the victims were told the dates had been pushed back and given new dates.
When these dates came and the victims contacted Daly to ask where the publications were, their contact would go unanswered, pushing many of the victims to contact Action Fraud and police.
A Met investigation was launched, establishing that Daly was using ‘virtual offices’ based in Islington Kemp House, City Road, EC1and Hatton Garden, EC1, to receive and forward mail onward to an address in Market Street, Birkhenhead, Liverpool, in an apparent attempt to hide his location.
Officers from the Met went to the address in July 2012 with colleagues from Merseyside Police, who were carrying out their own investigation into Daly, and discovered what is commonly referred to as a ‘boiler room’; a premises that is used solely for the purpose of high pressure sales of illicit or illegal products and services to victims.
A total of ten computers, large amounts of documentation and freshly printed copies of the so-called ‘Crime and Security Journal’ were recovered, as well as £3,000 in cash, establishing that this was the operations centre for the scam.
Information was received indicating that Daly would be attending the address on 23 July 2012 to collect property. The information was passed to Merseyside Police and he was duly arrested.
As the investigation unfolded, police uncovered en elaborate network of accounts and company names in which money from victims was funnelled through, despite there being no evidence of legitimate trading; in a six month period, one account belonging to Daly was shown to have a turnover of £470,000, with £376,000 withdrawn as cash.
Daly was charged by postal requisition and summonsed in February 2014 to attend Highbury Magistrates Court on 7 April 2014, at which point he went on the run. He later handed himself into custody in Liverpool in late 2015 where he was charged with eight counts of fraud.
A trial was due to begin in London in March 2016; however after the Met and Merseyside Police decided to link their cases, the judge transferred the trial to be heard at Liverpool Crown Court on 8 January 2018. During the trial, Daly changed his plea to guilty. He was remanded in custody until he was sentenced to eight years and one month imprisonment.
Upon sentencing him the Judge called him a “cocky, arrogant egotistical man who thought he was cleverer than everyone else and could “‘blag’ his way out of any situation”.
DC Alan Stewart of Central North CID, said: “This investigation reminds us all of the due diligence necessary, particularly when responding to ‘cold callers’. I thank the victims for their patience whilst we got this case to trial and would ask anyone concerned that they may have been the victim of fraud to refer to the action fraud website for further advice.”
DCI Christina Jessah of Central North CID, said: “Daly’s sentence reflects the seriousness of his offending and will hopefully act as a deterrent to others. I would like to thank our colleagues from Merseyside Police for their support in securing the right outcome for the victims.”