Melksham man handed suspended jail term for laundering stolen charity cash
8:37am Tuesday 4th March 2014 in News
A Melksham man who allowed his bank account to be used to launder money stolen from a charity has been handed a suspended jail sentence.
Sean Fordham was promised a 25 per cent cut if he helped criminals get their hands on cash plundered from funds to aid disaster zones.
But the 24-year-old was left empty-handed after the fraudsters also cheated him by holding on to his cash card after keeping all the money for themselves.
Claire Marlow, prosecuting, told Swindon Crown Court yesterday how the cash was stolen from a London charity called Global Giving UK.
She said the organisation raises about a million pounds a year, spending 70 per cent on overseas disaster relief and the rest on health and education in this country.
In March last year she said £9,850 from the charity was transferred to Fordham's Barclays Bank account by someone else.
In the early hours of the following morning £300 was taken out from a cash machine before £3,000 was withdrawn over the counter in Streatham.
Another £4,000 was taken out at the Brixton branch and just under £1,500 was also spent at shops in three purchases.
She said the defendant was arrested the following day where he admitted his part in the scam.
He said he met a friend of a friend in a nightclub in Chippenham and he was asked if he had an account with Barclays they could use.
The following day he met the man from London in Melksham and handed over his card and PIN, then met him in the capital when the withdrawals were made.
"He said he needed money as he hadn't got a job and his partner was pregnant. He didn't know the money was for charity," she said.
Fordham, of Little John Avenue, Melksham, pleaded guilty to a money laundering offence.
Chris Smyth, defending, said "He went up to London with his card so these people could withdraw the money.
"They took all of it, they abandoned him and kept his card. He never got it back. Clearly this was a group using people who were susceptible.
"He recognises it was extremely stupid to be tempted to get involved."
Mr Smyth said his partner, who works as a carer, is on maternity leave having had their son and he is now on a zero hours contract with a removal company.
Passing sentence, Judge Douglas Field "You in effect agreed that your bank account could be used to receive money that it should never have received, namely from this charity.
"I am prepared to sentence you on the basis of what you told the police, that you didn't know the loser was a charity.
"I note Barclays have reimbursed them so the bank is the loser and you didn't get much, if anything, for yourself. Nevertheless this is serious, we are dealing with a sum just under £10,000."
He imposed a nine-month jail term suspended for a year and ordered he do 200 hours of unpaid work.