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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Carousel Gang gets Jail Time

The trial has finished and one of the many carousel gangs gets serious jail-time and the promise of more if they don’t pay back the £12m they swindled. It also turns out they were box-breaking as well:
The court heard that two Nottinghamshire men, Steven Chapman and Neil Walker set up a company called Intercom Espana 96 SL in 1996 near Benidorm, Spain. They initially sourced SIM locked mobile phones locked into the Spanish 'Telefonica' network. The phones were obtained at a cheap rate, being subsidised by the network. They were shipped to the UK and unlocked by a series of 'unlockers' and sold into the UK market in bulk.

The phones were sold through UK based 'missing traders', set up and controlled by Chapman and Walker, to major UK mobile phone distributors. The VAT charged by the 'missing traders' was not paid over to HM Customs & Excise, (now HMRC), and a classic MTIC fraud was born.

A lengthy and complex investigation started in early 1997 and a series of trials followed in September 2002, October 2003, November 2004 and July 2006. The investigation has led to enquiries in numerous countries including Ireland, France, Spain, Holland, Belgium, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, Hong Kong, USA, Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.
I suspect that they cost Telefonica a lot more than £12m in lost handset subsidy.