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Boiler room raid uncovered hidden documents and spy cameras

Six jailed for £2.8m fraud following the City watchdog’s Operation Tidworth

By Hannah Murphy

They might be called “boiler room scams”, but one of the biggest examples of organized investment fraud in the UK took place inside an office building in east London. Back in March 2014, staff from the UK’s financial watchdog launched a search operation at the Docklands Business Centre. Several floors up, Jeannine Lewis, 50, was caught on CCTV sweeping up a stack of glossy brochures and standing on a table to remove a ceiling tile to store the documents in the roof. Minutes later, she did this again — though this time moving a large black computer system. According to the Financial Conduct Authority, Ms. Lewis was hiding evidence from authorities concerning a sprawling London-based boiler room scam that cost 170 unsuspecting victims a total of £2.8m. The FCA, which has now brought its second-largest criminal prosecution to date against Ms. Lewis and five others for the scam, had made an unannounced visit to the office, catching the defendants off guard. Ms. Lewis claimed at Southwark Crown Court that she had merely been adhering to her company’s clean desk policy. But the group has now been found guilty of charges including fraud, money laundering and perverting the course of justice. In a coup for a regulator keen to shake off accusations of being too “soft”, sentencing on Friday confirmed the defendants would be jailed for a total of nearly 29 years. Dubbed Operation Tidworth by the FCA, the case shines a harsh spotlight on the shady world of boiler rooms— unauthorized brokerages that use cold calling and other high-pressure sales tactics to push worthless or overpriced investments to members of the public. The court heard that the defendants set up five different boiler room operations between July 2010 and April 2014 to persuade people to invest in a company that owned land on the Portuguese island of Madeira. Investors were told the land — and therefore the company’s shares — would increase in value to give returns of as much as 228 percent, thanks to the proposed development of a prestigious golf course nearby. However, investors never saw their money again. Instead, it funded the lavish lifestyle of the group’s ringleader, former bouncer Michael Nascimento. According to prosecutors, the 41-year-old spent £23,000 on VIP Arsenal football club season tickets and £46,000 a year renting a six-bedroom property. Mr. Nascimento was portrayed by prosecutors as paranoid and controlling. Ironically, it was he who installed the CCTV cameras — that captured Ms. Lewis, his personal assistant, stowing away the documents and computer hardware — in order to secretly monitor his staff.

On Friday, he was the last of the group to be sentenced, receiving 11 years. On the same day, he and his chief salesman Charanjit Sandhu, 28, were also sentenced in another case involving the mis-selling of £2.4m of carbon credits to 130 victims. Here, the court heard, the proceeds were used to buy items such as an Aston Martin and a Rolex. At an earlier hearing, the court found the defendants guilty of offenses of conspiracy to defraud, fraud, money laundering and perverting the course of justice, as well as breaches of markets legislation.

Charanjit Sandhu was sentenced to five and a half years’ imprisonment. Hugh Edwards, 36, and Stuart Rea, 50, who both recruited sales brokers, were sentenced to three years and nine months each. Jeannine Lewis, Mr. Nascimento’s personal assistant, received two and a half years while Ryan Parker, 25, described as the “office dogsbody”, was jailed for two years. Operation Tidworth has been presented as a win for the FCA, which has recently sought to flex its muscles as an investigator and prosecutor of financial crime. As part of its prosecution, the watchdog seized more than 100 computers, trawled through 4m documents and analyzed 65 bank accounts — both in the UK and overseas. In terms of the amount of evidence sifted through by investigators, the case comes second only to the sprawling insider dealer case named Operation Tabernula. Indeed, Mr. Nascimento and his associates went to great lengths to deceive their victims. In convincing investment brochures seized by the FCA, one of the boiler room companies boasted of being “one of the UK’s largest wealth advisory firms”. Documents were forged under the name of the Four Seasons and Hilton Hotels to con investors into thinking the hotel chains were interested in buying the Madeira development. Website content was copied from banks such as Commerzbank and Citibank. One investor was even flown with his wife to Madeira to meet Mr. Nascimento and Mr. Sandhu who were using fake names. The couple were shown land that was not the land they were said to be investing in. The investor, who lost about £923,000, told the court that he felt like he had been “a fool” and would have to “live with that for the rest of [his] life”.

Hannah Laming, a partner at law firm Peters & Peters with a focus on business crime, said: “There’s been a lot of focus on insider dealings and the headline fines that you get from banks. But I think it’s important for [the FCA] to focus on cases like this. The people who’ve lost the money — it’s their life savings.” Still, questions have been raised as to how the same perpetrators were able to continue to operate over a four-year period, reinventing themselves even after the FCA was made aware of the first iteration of a boiler room operation involving Mr. Nascimento in 2011.

Mark Steward, the FCA’s director of enforcement and market oversight, said this was because Mr. Nascimento used numerous tactics to avoid detection. “He deliberately hid his identity, used other people like the directors and signatories on the bank accounts, [and] avoided having his name on any documentation,” he said. Others urge more transparency around what happens when the public, or businesses, report these types of scams and fraud. One expert in the sector, who did not wish to be named, said that it was unclear how the FCA handled complaints. “It would be good to know what they do with these sorts of reports from the public and how they pursue them,” the expert said. Regulators will be hoping that the publicity surrounding the case will open the eyes and ears of more unsuspecting investors, and give them the confidence to hang up on any cold callers who are offering a seemingly hot deal.

 

£10bn a year netted in increasingly sophisticated frauds

Boiler rooms operations, immortalized in films such as Leonardo DiCaprio’s The Wolf of Wall Street, have long been a bugbear for police and regulators. Often, vulnerable and elderly people are targeted. “Fraudsters will prey on an individual’s anxiety about the future,” said Mark Steward, the FCA’s director of enforcement and market oversight, citing as examples concerns about building an adequate pension or paying for a child’s education. But more experienced investors can also fall victim: the biggest individual loss recorded by the police stands at £6m. The scams tend to focus on “flavor of the month” investments, according to Detective Inspector Andy Thompson of City of London Police fraud squad. These have included land, diamonds, art, wine and, lately, cryptocurrencies, he said. Typically, salespeople known as “openers” call people on a list bought from marketing companies dubbed a “suckers list”. But it is so-called “closers” — those who set up the scam and tend to be the ones closing the deals — who are often the beneficiaries. During a recent raid on a boiler room scam, the police found framed photographs of Ferraris on the desks of closers, Det Insp Thompson said. This type of fraud is becoming increasingly sophisticated. Keith Brown, a professor of social work at Bournemouth University who is also involved in research into scams for the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, warned that most people were unaware of the scale of financial fraud in the UK, which he estimated at about £10bn worth a year. “A lot of the new data protections and [some] new cold-calling regulations are very important and very helpful,” he said, referencing rules that came into force this month, banning unsolicited nuisance calls. “[But] there’s a lot of money to be made and criminals have a lot of resources to develop new tactics.” Det Insp Thompson said many boiler rooms “sail close to legality”, often seeking out legitimate legal advice. Others move money offshore and create unnecessary layers of bureaucracy to frustrate the authorities. “It’s Darwinian,” he said. “You always catch the ones who are less sophisticated, but then they learn from that.”

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2018. All rights reserved.

STALKER HELL Ex-boyfriend spied on lover by hiding secret cameras and listening devices in her home

Wayne Bamford, 47, was told he faces a ‘significant custodial sentence’ because of the risks he faces to women

By Robin Perrie

JEALOUS Wayne Bamford is facing jail after he placed covert listening devices in his ex-partner’s bedroom during a stalking campaign.

Bamford, 47, refused to accept their relationship was over after Joanna Dawson ended it and launched a “highly sophisticated” covert operation to keep tabs on her.

He was able to phone in to the devices which then provided a live feed so he could hear what was going on in her bedroom.

Over a period of 15 days he connected to the devices 1,600 times, a court heard.

But the surveillance op was foiled when mum-of-one Joanne sought advice from a spy shop after suspecting he might have bugged her home.

He was told he faces a “significant custodial sentence” because of the risks he faces to women.

His case was heard on the same day that Corrie Star Kym Marsh backed our Stop a Stalker campaign.

Kym, who has twice been targeted, urged readers to sign our petition backing an MP’s bid to increase police power to combat stalkers.

Bamford and Joanne began a relationship in May 2016 and started an accident management business together six months later.

But their relationship quickly turned sour and ended in January 2017.

Prosecutor Anthony Moore told Bradford crown court that Joanne’s suspicions were raised when Bamford appeared to comment on her movements.

She became even more concerned when she contacted a locksmith to boost security and Bamford texted her saying: “There is no need to change your locks”.

She visited a spy shop for advice and was told her what to look for. She returned home and found a listening device in her bedroom.

Joanne told the court: “He played me a recording in my own house and told me he had paid someone to place a device on the outside of my house which I did not believe.

“I went to a spy shop in Leeds and asked them, ‘if I wanted to bug someone’s house what do you do?’ “He told me what to look for.” She later found a second device hidden behind a TV in her bedroom and Bamford, of Gildersome, near Leeds, was arrested.

Bamford admitted stalking causing serious alarm or distress but a trial of issue was held yesterday after the prosecution and defence could not agree on the basis of his guilty plea.

He claimed to have fitted only one of the listening devices and said she had fitted the other to keep tabs on another ex.

But the judge, Recorder Anthony Hawks, said: “I find the complainant entirely plausible.

“I find the defendant evasive and dishonest. I totally reject his account that the complainant was responsible.

“I’m very concerned about the risk you may present to people. You were prepared to engage in a highly sophisticated way to stalk that woman.

Mystery surrounds device found in wallet near playground at Hamilton park

The person who discovered the wallet believes it housed a pinhole camera

Hamilton police detectives are trying to unravel a mystery after a strange electronic device was discovered hidden in a wallet left near a playground in an east end park.

By Adam Carter

A Reddit user who said they discovered the wallet posted that they believe it housed a pinhole camera and a battery, but police were not able to confirm that Friday afternoon.

“We’re not sure what this is,” Const. Lorraine Edwards told CBC News. “We can’t confirm that it’s a camera.”

Police say the wallet was found by park staff at Sam Mason Park near Queenston Road and Nash Road North.

Reddit user Jdm67 posted photos of the wallet Friday morning.

The poster said he or she opened up the wallet looking for a driver’s licence, but instead found what the poster believed to be a pinhole camera, a battery, and a memory card.

“It was set up near the playground with a hole for the camera to view through,” the post reads.

“It was still on, and it seemed like it may be streaming because the WiFi light was on still.”

Edwards said investigators are now trying to figure out who left the wallet there and why.  

She also said a wallet seems like an odd choice to house a device to surreptitiously record someone.

“If somebody meant harm by this, a wallet is the first thing that would be picked up at a park,” she said. 

‘HE’S EVIL’ Horrified newlywed turns husband in to cops after discovering he secretly filmed kids in KFC toilets

Heartbroken Mollie Clarke, 21, made the shocking discovery after checking Richard Cooper’s phone as it lay charging on the kitchen table.

By Jacob Dirnhuber

 

A YOUNG mum was forced to turn in her newlywed husband to the police after discovering that he had used hidden cameras to film kids in a KFC toilet.

Heartbroken Mollie Clarke, 21, made the shocking discovery after checking Richard Cooper’s phone as it lay charging on the kitchen table.

 

She had suspicions he was cheating on her – but instead of finding racy texts from another woman, she came across a trove of women and children using the fast food outlet’s bathroom.

Cancer survivor Mollie immediately turned him into the cops – and told his mum within minutes of the shocking discovery.

When he pleaded guilty in court, she discovered he’d made a video of her using the toilet at home as a “dry run”.

She said: “I realise now the man I thought I was married to didn’t exist. I didn’t know him.

 

“He put his phone on the charger, told me to not look through it before walking out.

“It had a pass lock on it but I managed to guess it.

“I still don’t know why but I went straight to his videos. Anyone else would have went for messages, but something told me check there.

“The first video I saw was of a child going to the toilet. I just threw the phone down in shock.”

“Within about 20 minutes I was in the car with my sister and going to the police station with his phone in my hand.

But Cooper, of Ballymoney, Co Antrim, walked free from court after a judge handed him a two-year probation order.

Mollie added: “I feel like he’s got away with it to be honest.

“He walked free. The sentence in my eyes was far too lenient.

“He had disgusting videos of a child on his phone. That worries me.

“He’s evil, there is no other word to describe him and in my eyes he should have been jailed.’

“We’d been together about three years when I moved in with him when I was 17.”

Hidden Cameras Targeting Female Workers at South Bay Tech Company

Hidden Cameras Targeting Female Workers at South Bay Tech Company

Many of the women working at the South Bay location are upset with how the company handled things

Women at a South Bay technology company are upset that they weren’t notified earlier about someone using hidden cameras to target female workers.

Two cameras were found hidden under the desks of two female employees at Rohr Inc., a subsidiary of United Technologies Corporation, one of the world’s biggest suppliers of aerospace and defense products. The company has a large campus in Chula Vista.

One employee, who didn’t want to be identified, told NBC 7 many of the women working at this location are upset with how the company handled things.

She said management became aware of the first camera roughly four months ago but didn’t notify employees until a second camera was discovered last week.

She said employees only found out when the company sent out a notice about an internal investigation to find the person or persons responsible for putting small cameras beneath the desks of female co-workers.

She feels like women working there deserved to know immediately so they could’ve been on the lookout themselves.

Laurie Chua, a local human resources consultant and expert witness, said it’s not surprising the company’s management waited to notify employees until a second camera was found.

“From an HR standpoint you want to think that this was just a one-off type of situation the first time it happened, and they would hope they get the camera, they’re probably doing an investigation to find out who did it,” Chua said. “The second time it happened, then I would think more than likely they’re going to tell the employees to be on the lookout for it.”

In a statement to NBC 7, Rohr said it is working with local law enforcement to investigate the incidents and catch the person or persons “responsible for this unacceptable conduct.”

“We take any situation involving employee well-being seriously and this is why we decided to inform our Chula Vista employees in a site-wide communication,” the statement said. “At the same time, we are working to protect the integrity of the investigation.”

Chula Vista Police Department said it has been notified and is working with the company to determine the source but didn’t elaborate on its role in the investigation.

Source: NBC San Diego

TEEN FINDS HIDDEN CAMERA IN LOCKER ROOM DURING ITALIAN TOURNAMENT

A disturbing scandal has recently rocked Italy‘s youth volleyball circuit. A cellphone belonging to a referee was found hidden with its camera turned on inside an arena’s locker room. The event happened during an international tournament involving 250 youngsters from six European countries. The cellphone was found by a player from a Lithuanian team, who immediately went to his coach with the device. The police was called, and even had to protect the 27-year-old referee, who stated that the phone’s camera must have activated by itself, from being attacked.

Here is what the event’s organizer had to say (Gazzetta.it):

“There is a suspicion that something serious may have happened, but we’ll wait for the police to do their job.  We immediately intervened, reporting what happened. We’ll now distance ourselves from the case, letting the police do its job, and we hope that the Italian Volleyball Federation, to which we will send an appropriate report, suspends this referee. I don’t want him referring again.”

The Italian volleyball federation has temporaly suspened the referee while the police investigates the matter:

“This was an unavoidable decision. This is a fact that has never happened since the Federation exists. Now let’s let the investigations take their course. For now, let’s not cast stones at anyone, for everyone is innocent until proven guilty. We’ll await the end of investigations.”

Source: WolleyMob

Man wanted for voyeurism after hidden camera found in Scarborough restaurant washroom

Hidden camera

WATCH ABOVE: Two spy cameras have been discovered inside public washrooms in two Toronto restaurant locations in the past week. Spy camera detectors can be used if you feel your privacy is in question. Tom Hayes reports.

Toronto police are looking to identify a man wanted for allegedly placing a hidden camera in a Scarborough restaurant washroom.

Police said the suspect entered the business located at Midland Avenue and Silver Star Boulevard on May 9 around 6:27 p.m. and affixed a fake wall socket with a hidden camera inside the washroom.

Authorities released a security image of the suspect on Monday.

He is described as Asian, between 25 and 40 years of age, clean-shaven, short black hair and thin-to-medium build.

He was last seen wearing a red sweatshirt/jacket with blue stripes on the sleeves, tan pants and blue shoes.

Police are also investigating a similar incident inside a Starbucks washroom at the corner of Yonge and King streets in downtown Toronto earlier this month.

In that case, police said a camera was discovered in one of the coffee shop’s two unisex bathrooms on the wall behind an electrical outlet, under the sink and facing the toilet.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416-808-4200 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS.

Source: Global News

 

Police: Espanola man confesses to placing camera in neighbor’s home

Johnny Chacon

ESPANOLA, N.M. (KRQE) – An Espanola man is accused of spying on his female neighbor by planting a camera in an unusual place.

The woman says she went to replace the bottle in her Glade Air Freshener when she found a hidden camera.

When police played the video showing the man who put it there, the woman says she recognized her neighbor, 67-year-old Johnny Chacon.

Police say Chacon admitted to breaking into the woman’s house and swapping out her air freshener for one with a recording device hidden inside.

The woman says she had never invited Chacon into her house and has no idea when he planted the device.

Chacon is charged with voyeurism and breaking and entering. 

Source: KRQE

Racine County Sheriff’s expects hundreds of victims from gymnastics coach with hidden cameras

RACINE COUNTY, Wis. (CBS 58) — The Racine County Sheriff’s Office has released new information about the gymnastics coach accused of setting up a hidden camera to watch people undress and go to the bathroom. 

According to the Sheriff, James Kivisto had 803 registered children at his gymnastics facility, Wind Lake Gymnastics Center, since it opened in 2007. Kivisto has been around Milwaukee and Racine Counties since 1987. 

49-year-old Kivisto is facing ten felony counts of child porn.

The Sheriff’s Office has already received 150 phone calls of parents and children worried they might be victims. The Sheriff expects hundreds of victims. They discovered over 100 inappropriate images on Kivisto’s devices which he admitted to viewing.

In an interrogation, Kivisto said he did not distribute the images but the Sheriff’s Office has not been able to confirm that information. 

Over the coming weeks and months the Sheriff’s Office expects it will conduct hundreds of interviews with possible victims and their families. Anyone who thinks they may have been impacted or anyone who ever went to Wind Lake Gymnastics Center is asked to call a hotline at 262-636-3990.

Kivisto told officials that he was arrested by Glendale Police in 1999 for child porn. The FBI was brought in and charges were referred to the Milwaukee County DA. What happened after that referral is unknown, but Kivisto was not registered as a sex offender.

The Milwaukee County DA’s Office sent CBS 58 this statement:

“This office routinely charges cases like the matter involving Mr. Kivisto in 1999. I have no further information about that charging decision from 19 years ago.This office routinely charges cases like the matterinvolving Mr. Kivisto in 1999.  I have no further information about thatcharging decision from 19 years ago.”

The hidden cameras were found by a family cleaning up after a party that was held at the Gymnastics Center.

No assaults were ever reported regarding Kivisto and officials never received a complaint. 

Kivisto was the owner/operator of the Gymnastics Center where he also lived. He was never married and had no children. He is being held on $150,000 cash bond. He is due in court next on March 21.

 

By: Justin Thompson-Gee
Source: CBS 58

GBI investigates recording device found inside Worth Co. Jail

SYLVESTER, Ga. (WALB) — The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is looking into the discovery of a possibly illegal recording device inside the Worth County Jail.

The Tifton Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office was notified late last month of a device in the privileged attorney-client interview room at the jail.

Prosecutors say it was installed at the direction of now suspended Sheriff Jeff Hobby.

Attorney Mark Brimberry says Georgia Law explicitly prohibits a person recording a conversation in which he or she is not a party to.

But it’s obviously illegal to record a privileged conversation between an attorney and a client.

“That’s wrong, it should not have happened,” said Brimberry. “We’re talking about a recording device which they know when they put it in there and they certainly turned it on they knew they were violating the law.”

No interviews have been done in the room since the device was found.

It is now being looked at by the GBI Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes Unit.

Video Source: Walb News

Source: WSAV