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ITV series “Fraud Squad” investigates money laundering (and carbon credit crime)

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At 9pm on 8 August 2013, ITV will broadcast a new series of “Fraud Squad”. Episode One includes footage of the arrest of Ian McDonald and David Downes at Heathrow airport. In April 2013, Downes became the first person in the UK to be jailed for his role in a carbon credit boiler room scam.

Downes pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud and offered to give £3.9 million back to the victims. He was sentenced to four-and-a-half years. McDonald was Downes’ money launderer. He chose to be judged by a jury and was sentenced to eight years for money laundering but was acquitted of fraud.

The police went to Heathrow airport to arrest McDonald, who has laundered at total of £18 million of UK fraud victims’ money. When the police found Downes travelling with McDonald they arrested both of them. ITV’s press release about the programme explains that,

Downes is the mastermind behind a number of international investment frauds, ruthlessly targeting over 2,000 British victims by pressurising them to buy worthless carbon credits and fake shares in eco-friendly companies.
 
Detective Inspector James Clancey states: “Downes is one of the significant individuals in Europe for this kind of criminality. He’s been involved in this for a number of years and MacDonald seems to be his money laundering organisation attached to the side of the criminality.”

City of London Police have recovered almost £5 million from MacDonald and Downes, which will be used to compensate victims.

fraud-squad

Detective Constable Claire Armson-Smith describes McDonald and Downes as “two particularly greedy, selfish individuals”. In McDonald’s villa in Spain, police found a framed cashier’s cheque for £1 million. Armson-Smith describes McDonald and Downes’ lavish lifestyle:

“We know they travelled the world. Travelled business class. They had nice cars. Jaguars. Porsches. Nice clothes. Rolex watches.”

The lifestyle was financed at the expense of their victims, many of whom are elderly or vulnerable. Armson-Smith tells “Fraud Squad” the impact the fraud had on people’s lives:

“A number of victims have died. I’ve had elderly vulnerable victims with dementia having to go into homes. I’ve had victims saying they feel suicidal because of their losses. It’s just destroying people’s lives.”

Nelzine Green, a retired nurse and midwife, lost £64,000 (invested in fake or worthless shares). She tells “Fraud Squad” that,

“I felt really awful for a long time. Where I would go to bed and just lie there. You can’t sleep. You’re thinking that this is a lot of money that I’ve just chucked down the drain. What annoys is I’ve got two grandchildren. They’re very bright children. Instead of giving my money to men like that I could have left it to my grandchildren.”

Dr Greenhalgh lost £250,000. He’s been forced out of retirement and may have to sell his home. He was targeted when his wife was undergoing chemotherapy treatment.

Commander Steve Head is in charge of the Economic Crime Department at the City of London Police. He says,

“We are coming after those people who support, enable, who facilitate fraud, no matter where they are. No matter how remote they may think they are from the front line of the criminality, we are coming after them.”

The series “Fraud Squad” is made by Wild Pictures and Episode One will be broadcast on ITV 1 at 9pm on Thursday 8 August 2013.
 


UPDATE – 9 August 2013: Having watched the programme last night, it wasn’t really about carbon credit fraud. Downes targeted more than 2,000 people in the UK, pressurising them to buy worthless carbon credits and fake shares and is the first person in the UK to go to jail for his involvement in a carbon credit as investments sales scam. But the programme focussed on the police, the arrest of McDonald and Downes, and two of the victims. Carbon credits were mentioned twice in the hour-long programme. I’ve edited the post and the title to reflect this.
 

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11 Comments

  1. It is good to see that this has started to happen (carbon credit scammers being arrested). I reported MH Carbon and Worldwide Commodities to Action Fraud a while back, but it is frustrating that you just don’t know if the police are taking any action against these criminals. As readers of these blogs know, there were dozens of carbon credit scammers who disappeared. Some form of feedback from the authorities would be good to have or at least some knowledge that an investigation is taking place.

  2. Has anyone heard a company called Sothwest Utilities based in Gibraltar? I appreciate if you let me know they have contacted me for my VERs, after what happened to me on AGT idont trust any one any more.

    Thanks

  3. people like this add to the lack of credibility to the market and destroys the faith and hope that needs to happen for all of this to be successful. To Bad this magazine can only find the bad in the world and not the incredible growth and positive integration of the new BTC classification program. BTC is moving REDD’s from Brazil to South Africa to Indonesia and Europe then back to the US to support and sustain businesses in states that have no RPS programs. There is so much more to life that brings hope, I hope you guys find it and start talking about it. FYI their over 200 million REDD’s and climbing

  4. @kellie (#3) – Thanks for this comment, but I’m afraid I can’t understand it. Can you please explain what BTC is, what its classification programme is, what a REDD is, how BTC moves REDDs around the world, what an RPS programme is, and what RPS has to do with REDDs. Links to websites explaining further what BTC is doing would be useful. Thanks!

  5. @Richard (#1) – There have been several comments Southwest Utilities on REDD-Monitor. See my response here (and click the link in the comment) and see Derek’s comment here.

  6. Did anyone else watch this programme? I’d be interested to read what you thought about it.

    I was disappointed. I was hoping for an explanation of the carbon credit scam and the scale of it in the UK (arresting McDonald and Downes didn’t make the problem go away). An explanation of why carbon credits are not suitable as an investment would have been useful, as would advice for people who are victims of the scam. The police featured regularly in the programme – why weren’t they given the opportunity to give advice about not handing over money to cold callers (regardless of whether they are selling shares, carbon credits, rare earth minerals, fine wines, plots of land or whatever)?

    And maybe a discussion about why the voluntary carbon credit market isn’t regulated and what the authorities could do to stop carbon credit fraud wouldn’t have done any harm.

  7. I watched it by accident after watching an old Emmerdale episode. I’m glad I did watch it. It was not made clear exactly what type of credits were involved. Were they real ones or not? If there was no fraud then perhaps they were real ones. VERs/CERs/REDDS/EURs? It was the London police and that should send a shockwave through all those EC post codes with carbon credit sales firms.

    I didn’t sleep so well after as it stirred up emotions. I would have had nightmares if they had been let off.

  8. I cannot get ITV player in my area and I needed to take another look at the persons involved with the money laundering connected to Ali, its frustrating because I thought I recognised an individual..

  9. Has anybody had any dealings with Good2begreen who are also scamming people? They seem to have disappeared now and I cannot get hold of anyone from their company anymore. They are probably abroad now!!!!