Fraudsters guilty of serial sewage scam

Posted On 09 Dec 2015 at 5:43 pm

Ten scam artists who conned dozens of people out of thousands of pounds by convincing them that their raw sewage had flooded under their neighbours’ properties are due to be sentenced.

The fraudsters were convicted after an investigation into a network of organised criminals whose fraud offences netted more than £310,000 from 34 victims, including one in Brighton.

The ten – nine from Sussex and one from Surrey – will be sentenced on two days – this Friday (11 December) and Friday 8 January after either pleading guilty to or being found guilty of a variety of fraud and money laundering offences.

Operation Knock, run by the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU) investigated incidents between dates in October 2013 and September 2014. Victims were told that their neighbours’ property had been flooded with raw sewage coming from under their property.

The victims were told that they needed to hire specialist equipment to resolve the issue and to pay a deposit which would then be refunded.

Lead investigator Detective Constable Matt Wilson, from SEROCU’s Regional Fraud Team, said: “This group were part of a more sophisticated network that intentionally targeted the most vulnerable people.

“Once they found someone that would give them money they repeatedly targeted them with a barrage of lies and deceit to extract further funds.

“The people convicted have all admitted or been convicted of arranging these offences or allowing their bank accounts to be used to receive and dissipate the funds from these crimes.

“Without these willing participants or others like them these offences could not occur.

“This should act as a deterrent to anyone else tempted to earn some extra money by turning a blind eye to these crimes. We will investigate and bring them before the court.”

The convicted fraudsters are

  • George Wickens Junior, 24, of Iveagh Crescent, Newhaven, who pleaded guilty on Friday 3 July to conspiracy to commit fraud and conspiracy to launder the proceeds of crime between Wednesday 31 July 2013 and Tuesday 30 September 2014.
  • George Wickens, 52, of Batts Bridge Road, Maresfield, who pleaded guilty on Friday 14 August to conspiracy to commit fraud.
  • Lee Farrington, 22, of Churchill Road, Lewes, and Angelia Wickens, 31, of Parklands, Maresfield, who pleaded guilty on Monday 28 September to money laundering offences (conspiracy to conceal, disguise, convert, transfer or remove criminal property).
  • James Cavanagh, 25, of Parklands, Maresfield, Daryl Hayley, 23, of Beeches Way, Faygate, Martin Jones, 26, of Newbury Road, Crawley, Paul Bryson, 24, of Old Farm Close, Haywards Heath, and Alfie Robinson, 23, of Chanctonbury Road, Burgess Hill, who all pleaded guilty on Monday 16 November to a count of conspiracy to launder the proceeds of crime between Wednesday 31 July 2013 and Tuesday 30 September 2014.
  • James Cavanagh, who was also found guilty by a unanimous jury at Hove Crown Court of conspiracy to commit fraud after an eight-day trial at Hove Crown Court.
  • Martin Suckling, 52, of Churchill Road, Smallfield, who was also found guilty after the same trial of three counts of acquiring criminal property.

The sentencing court is currently listed as Lewes Crown Court. However, this may change.

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