A former X-Factor contestant from Tower Hamlets has been sentenced to 20 months in prison following a £1million scheme to con more than 100 elderly victims out of their savings.
Nathan Gayle, 29, better known by his stage name “Starboy Nathan”, was part of a gang who posed as detectives and persuaded pensioners to hand over cash for “safe-keeping” as part of a non-existent undercover investigation into supposedly corrupt bank officials.
Gayle was sentenced at the Old Bailey on May 4 for laundering £20,000 from Elizabeth Curtis, 73, from Cornwall, who had a total of £130,000 stolen from her.
The victims were targeted at various locations across England, including Bedfordshire, Devon, Kent and London. The court was told that the bogus detectives would ring up their victims and warn them that their savings were at risk from untrustworthy bank staff. A “courier’ would then be sent round to collect the cash, and in some cases victims were taken into bank branches and encouraged to withdraw their savings before handing them over.
Detectives from the National Terrorism Financial Investigation Unit (NTFIU) uncovered large irregular bank transfers to an individual in December 2014 while carrying out a separate counter terrorism investigation.
When investigating further, specialist officers from the NTFIU were able to link payments to other members of the group’s accounts, which then led them to link several courier fraud offences across the country – with various different telephones used amongst the group to make 5,695 calls to 3,374 UK numbers.
The court heard that the group where involved in conspiracy to commit fraud by targeting elderly and vulnerable adults in which the police identified around 140 frauds and attempted frauds.
Eight men were arrested between March and June 2015 for conspiracy to commit fraud or money laundering offences.
Five defendants insisted they were innocent, but four were found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud and stood trial on December 10, while the fifth was found guilty of money laundering on March 3.
The other three members, including Gayle, were sentenced on May 4.
Commander Dean Haydon, head of the Met counter terrorism command said: “I’m pleased with the sentences handed down to the group today. They callously and systematically defrauded elderly people of their life-savings. Had we not arrested them and put them before the courts, the group may have gone on to defraud many more victims across the UK.”
A ninth member is to face trial at Old Bailey on May 27 after pleading guilty to money laundering at an earlier hearing.
The group will be spending a combined total of 34 years behind bars.