Men guilty of £310,000 door-step sewage fraud

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Two men from Lewes and Newhaven have pleaded guilty to being part of a network of organised criminals committing fraud offences in excess of £310,000.

George Wickens Junior, aged 24, of Iveagh Crescent, Newhaven, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud and conspiracy to launder the proceeds of crime between July 31, 2013 and September 30, 2014.

Lee Farrington, aged 22, of Churchill Road, Lewes, pleaded guilty to money laundering offences (conspiracy to conceal, disguise, convert, transfer or remove criminal property).

The men are two of ten people who pleaded to, or were found guilty of, a variety of fraud and money laundering offences after their criminal network was unravelled following an investigation by the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU).

The fraud offences involved a total of 34 victims across Surrey, Sussex, Herfordshire, Devon and London, including some in Pevensey and Uckfield.

Operation Knock investigated incidents between October 2013 and September 2014 whereby victims had been told that their neighbours’ property had been flooded with raw sewage originating from under their property.

The victims were told that they needed to hire specialist equipment to resolve the issue and to pay a deposit which would then be refunded.

Lead investigator DC Matt Wilson, from SEROCU’s Regional Fraud Team said: “This group were part of a more sophisticated network that intentionally targeted the most vulnerable people.

“Once they found someone that would give them money they repeatedly targeted them with a barrage of lies and deceit to extract further funds. The people convicted have all admitted, or been convicted of, arranging these offences, or allowing their bank accounts to be used to receive and dissipate the funds from these crimes. Without these willing participants or others like them these offences could not occur.

“This should act as a deterrent to anyone else tempted to earn some extra money by turning a blind eye to these crime, we will investigate and bring them before the court.”

All ten people are due to be sentenced over two days on December 11 and January 8. The court is currently listed as Lewes Crown Court, however this may be subject to change.

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