Lancashire Constabulary financial investigator Alan Todd abides by the golden rule that crime should not pay – as Anthony and Linda Wisdom, of Dunelt Road, Blackpool, have learned to their cost.
They have been ordered to repay £139,484.70 of dirty drugs cash back to the legal system, or else serve a further two years in prison.
They were jailed, initially for a year, in August after being found guilty of money laundering.
Described by friends and neighbours as pillars of the community, the couple in their 50s had £162,000 worth of drugs cash stashed in carrier bags under a bed when police raided their home as part of an investigation into the drug-dealing activities of Mr Wisdom’s stepbrother Paul Turai, who died the following month.
A month after conviction, a confiscation hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act ordered the Wisdoms to pay £139,484 – and 70p! – or face a further two years in prison.
Investigator Todd explains: “Drug dealers usually need someone to launder money for them, the Wisdoms were party to that, and helping a criminal profit from the misery heaped on the local community through sale of drugs on the street.”
Mr Todd generally keeps a low profile, hence the lack of a photograph, but he has been behind some high-profile heists of cash, which would otherwise stay or make its way within the criminal system.
It’s his job to follow the money, to find out who’s got what, and why, and what’s left.
The big aim is to ensure crime does not pay – and is not seen to pay.
It was Alan who helped get the Wisdoms to pay up - or else.
And when a money launderer was ordered to give back more than £27,000 from a lottery fraud scam this year, it was him again who unearthed the cash and set up the mechanisms by which it could be recovered under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Alan says: “We may not get all of the money back, but if we get anything back, it’s worth it because it isn’t going to the criminals.”
Other successes have included:
* Ordering Steven Ogbodo, 38, a Nigerian national, formerly of Burlington Road, Blackpool, jailed for 39 months in April after being arrested last year as part of a drug operation, to repay £27,658.27 or serve a further 15 months imprisonment.
Alan’s investigations revealed Ogbodo had used false documentation while living illegally here to open bank accounts into which large sums were credited, including £12,500 from a lottery scam involving vulnerable elderly victims.
A Proceeds of Crime Act confiscation hearing which followed sentencing found he had benefited by £100,000 from criminal activities.
The repayment figure was calculated based on available assets. Alan says the odd 27p is just as important as the five figure sum preceding it.
“Every penny counts,” says Todd. “Indeed we aim to use POCA legislation to return cash to those who have been conned by criminals.
“It is important law abiding citizens see offenders are not gaining from their life of crime. POCA is a useful tool to strip them of their ill-gotten gains.”
* Blackpool drug dealer David Boyle, 46, of Dove Tree Court, Cherry Tree Road, was jailed for four years in January after being convicted of possessing cocaine with intent to supply and money laundering.
Officers discovered £11,000 cash and a kilo of the drug at his home last year.
A POCA hearing this summer concluded he had gained £237,601, but had available assets, including the seized £11,000, two high-value cars, and a share of a property, which amounted to the sum reclaimed.
Todd adds: “He sold drugs to fund a lifestyle that would have otherwise been beyond his means – and now these things have been taken from him, as will future assets, until the full amount of his criminal benefit is repaid.”
* Online fraudster Sal Adams, 29, of Preston New Road, conned people out of cash for non-existent electrical goods, and was convicted to 33 counts of fraud and five of money laundering.
He was sentenced to four years six months in June this year (in his absence).
In September, he was ordered to pay £79,800 to Amazon, which refunded duped customers.
Amazon lost £119,347.99, but managed to retain £40,000 thanks to police intervention.
Todd adds: “Where we identify victims who have lost money – we do our best to return it.”
The former detective constable is part of a specialist POCA squad based in Blackpool.
He explains: “We sometimes get involved at the start with the house search, or find why many are living beyond their means, although it’s getting harder with the number of bank mergers and changes.
“Criminals think they cover their tracks, but they slip up.
“Addicts tend to be hand-to-mouth, but some of the sums recovered from criminals are considerable.
“We pursue relentlessly. In one Lytham case, £6.5m went through the accounts, yet there was no trace of anything left, but a massive big house.
“They were convicted for mortgage fraud, then ordered to pay half a million. We’re still waiting...”