Dunstable Man and 8 others convicted in £1.8m ticketing fraud

  • Nine people, including a Dunstable man, have been convicted of running a £1.8 million ticketing fraud, which scammed people out of money for fake international rugby tickets.

An investigation was launched in April 2018 by the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU), after a number of reports were received following people purchasing corporate hospitality tickets at Twickenham Stadium from companies called Extreme Events Limited and Elite Direct Advertising between February 2017 and March 2018.

They were later contacted by the companies to say that their booking was being cancelled. When the victims tried to contact the company to request a refund on receiving notification of the cancellation, they found that the phone lines no longer existed and received no response via email.

In total, more than 100 reports of fraud were made, with known victims losing almost £1 million as a result of the scam.

However, when police examined the bank accounts for the company, they found that the fraudsters had actually made more than £1.8 million through their crimes.

Nine people were arrested in total as a result of the investigation, with two separate trials taking place at Southwark Crown Court.

The second trial concluded on Friday (1 April) at with all subjects found guilty.

Jermaine Daley, 40, of Victoria Street, Dunstable,  and Andy Mensah, 33, of Vermont Road, Wandsworth, London, were key to the fraud and were both found guilty of conspiring to commit fraud and money laundering.

The other seven were all convicted of money laundering.

They are:

Hasan Finik, 38, of Homerton High Street, Hackney, London
Jonathon Fraser, 38, of Kenmare Close, Uxbridge
Davin Pilgrim, 32, also of Kenmare Close, Ickenham, Uxbridge
Ione Fraser, 42, of Larch Avenue, East Acton, London
Anton Fraser, 43, also of Larch Avenue, East Acton, London
Anil Ardic, 38, of Grove Road, London
Pasqualina Kailou, 44, of Goshawk Gardens, Hayes, Middlesex

Detective Inspector Mhari Shurmer, from ERSOU’s regional fraud investigation unit, said, “This was a complex and lengthy investigation into a fraud and money laundering ring who conned hard-working people out of their money for international rugby tickets which quite simply didn’t exist.

“The group fraudulently took thousands of pounds from each victim and it is believed that in total they made around £1.88 million from their crimes. A Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) investigation will now be launched to recover this money and return it to its rightful owners, ensuring that no-one is able to profit from their criminal activities.

“As we have our first summer without regulations on large events since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, we know people will be keen to plan a summer of attending sports and music events, and of course there is also the Commonwealth Games and the World Cup this year, to name but a few.

“We would urge anyone who is buying tickets to an event to be cautious and know how to spot the signs that someone might be selling tickets illegitimately. Only ever buy tickets from a genuine promoter, agent, box office or reputable ticket site – don’t be tempted by people reselling tickets online or social media. We’d also recommend paying by credit card wherever possible as it offers you a better chance of recovering your money.”

Angus Bujalski, Director of Legal and Governance from the Rugby Football Union (RFU), said,  “Rugby fans should always buy tickets through official sources such as to ensure they are buying genuine tickets rather than paying inflated prices or being sold false tickets.

“The RFU takes the issue of unauthorised and fraudulent selling very seriously and is doing everything in its power to stop unofficial ticket sales which are against the interest of the game.   The introduction of digital ticketing in the last year has made tracking suspicious ticket activity far easier to monitor and act upon. 

“All money that the RFU raises is reinvested into community and professional rugby and this should be protected rather than providing an illegal income for those who are selling fraudulent tickets or trading tickets unlawfully at inflated prices.”  

For more information on how to prevent yourself from becoming a victim of ticket fraud, visit the Action Fraud website: Ticket fraud | Action Fraud

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