A man who handled stolen mobile phones alongside his legitimate mobile phone business was jailed for 30 months, yesterday, Thursday, 18 January at Southwark Crown Court.
Jozsef Poor, 45 (01.05.72) of Ulverston in Cumbria was found guilty of the following offences on 23 November 2017, following a joint investigation by the Met Police and HMRC:
– Cheating the public revenue (dishonest evasion of Corporation Tax)
– Dishonest evasion of VAT
– Converting criminal property (selling handsets known or suspected to be stolen or fraudulently obtained)
– Concealing criminal property (laundering stolen phones through Apple)
– Possessing criminal property (possession of stolen phones on the day of the warrant (02/04/2014)
– Possession criminal property (possession of £177,757 in cash knowing or suspecting it represented proceeds of criminal conduct)
Poor also pleaded guilty to possession of CS spray.
The three-and-a-half year long investigation was launched in early 2014 by the National Mobile Phone Crime Unit (now part of FALCON, the Met’s response to Fraud and Linked Crime Online), following a complaint from Apple about a large number of handsets which were being submitted for warranty claims. All the claims came from a single address in Acton but under different names.
Detectives quickly established that blocked iPhones which had previously been reported as lost or stolen were being submitted to Apple in order to obtain replacement handsets, effectively laundering the phones. Further investigation enabled officers to seize three parcels – all containing iPhones - which were due to be sent out of the country from Poor under a false name.
On 2 April 2014, a search warrant was executed at Poor’s address in Ealing Common. 102 handsets were seized, 80 of which had been blocked as they had been registered as lost or stolen. Poor’s phone and computers were seized during the search along with a CS gas canister and £177,570 cash.
Poor was arrested for handling stolen goods and possession of CS spray and taken to Acton Town police station to be interviewed. During the interview he disclosed that he held a spreadsheet on his computer documenting over 4,000 handsets he had bought and sold over the last few years. A check of the National Mobile Phone Register (NMPR), of the handsets listed on the spreadsheet established that around 12% of the handsets were blocked as lost or stolen, and that a high percentage of those had been registered as such in the previous six months.
Detectives established that Poor’s turnover was in the region of £1.5 million between 2011 and 2014. Some of this came from Poor’s legitimate mobile phone recycling business, however Poor had paid little or no tax on the turnover.
The CPS’ Complex Case Unit (CCU) reviewed the evidence and drew up the indictments and in July 2016, Poor was charged with the offences listed above.
Yesterday at court Poor was sentenced to 30 months’ imprisonment, minus 27 days for time already served.
Officer in the case, DC George Coulthard of the Metropolitan Police, said:
“This sentence is the culmination of a long and complex joint investigation between the Metropolitan Police and HMRC. Whilst Jozsef Poor started off running a legitimate business, a proportion of his work moved into the illegal laundering of stolen mobile phones, failing to pay tax and VAT on his turnover. I am pleased with the sentence which sends out a message to would-be fraudsters that we will always come after them and use the full force of the law to bring them to justice.”
Tim Clarke, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC said:
“Poor sold stolen phones, hid his profits and cheated the public purse. He took money that should been used to fund our vital public services and provided an outlet for others to benefit as a result of their criminal acts.
“We will continue to work with our partners to ensure fraudsters like Poor pay for their crimes. If you know of anyone committing tax fraud you can report them by calling our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”
Les Gray, Commercial Director, Recipero, part of the Callcredit Information Group, which maintains the National Mobile Phone Register, said:
“We are pleased to be able to support the police in their investigations and to provide them with real time information on device history. It’s great to see that our accurate data has helped convict a fraudster of trying to trade mobile phones that don’t belong to him.”
Following the end of the eight-week-long criminal trial, a Proceeds of Crime Act investigation was launched to recover the proceeds of Poor’s crimes.
+ Poor was found not guilty of making or supplying articles for use in frauds contrary to S7(1) Fraud Act 2006, namely, resealing second hand Apple iPhones intending them to be used to commit or assist in the commission of fraud.