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Warwickshire duo were part of money laundering gang

TWO women from Warwickshire are among 11 people who have been convicted of a string of money laundering offences that saw them swindle over £600,000 from pensioners.

Thirty-eight-year-old Charlotte Morris is one of four women and five men and four women who will be sentenced in the new year for a string of offences.

Hove Crown Court heard that Morris tricked an elderly woman into handing over £6,000 in April this year.

Morris, of Essex Close, Kenilworth, was found guilty of one count of converting criminal property from England and Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, contrary to section 327(1)(c) of the Proceeds of Crime Act. Her victim lived in Rugby.

Chantelle Hinton, aged 27, of Burbury Close, Leamington Spa, was found guilty by majority verdict of one count of the same charge after receiving £2,800 from a victim in the North London area between in August 2014.

Also among the gang was Scott Watkins, 37, of Matlock Road, Coventry, who was found guilty of money laundering offences which included 15 counts by unanimous decision and one count by majority decision of the same charge.

The court heard he had received a total of £142,100.00 from the four victims in Rugby, Southsea, West Bromwich and North London between 2014 and 2015.

The other offences took place around the country with victims being targeted from Cambridgeshire, Staffordshire, Sussex, Sheffield, Northampton and Middlesex.

SEROCU's Regional Fraud Team conducted an investigation under Operation Kanteen, with the 11 defendants either found guilty or pleading guilty to 49 offences with a total loss of £614,700.

Financial Investigator, Julie Thompson, from South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU) regional fraud team, said: "This was long and complex investigation, with many of the offences dating back to 2014.

"The offenders targeted vulnerable elderly victims, who they tricked into giving them large sums of cash, sometimes their life savings, without any care for the impact this would have on their victims.

"Without the money launderers, who are prepared to knowingly allow their accounts to be used to launder the proceeds of crime, these abhorrent crimes would not happen.

"These convictions send out a clear message to offenders that the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit will pursue all those involved in these despicable crimes against the most vulnerable in our community.

"Our next step after these criminals are sentenced will be to aim to try and get compensation of the victims, in an attempt to recover the money they have spent a life time working for."

All 11 defendants will be sentenced on 8th January at Lewes Crown Court.

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