Belfast Telegraph

Belfast judge warning on 'clean' bank accounts used by criminals

A Belfast judge yesterday warned the courts may take a different stand with regard sentencing for those guilty of making their
A Belfast judge yesterday warned the courts may take a different stand with regard sentencing for those guilty of making their "clean bank accounts" available to organised crime

By Michael Donnelly

A Belfast judge yesterday warned the courts may take a different stand with regard sentencing for those guilty of making their "clean bank accounts" available to organised crime.

The warning came from Judge Neil Rafferty QC after yet another self-confessed bank account fraudster came before the city's Crown Court.

Judge Rafferty acknowledged that so far the courts had freed those pleading guilty to such crimes on suspended jail terms, but warned that "the courts may need to adopt a different attitude towards deterrents".

In the interim, the judge called on the prosecution to identify every case of this nature "currently going through Belfast Crown Court, because quite frankly at the present we are seeing a spate of these cases coming through in dribs and drabs as isolated Bills of Indictment".

Judge Rafferty later added: "And what is quite clear is that there is a cottage industry developing out there for people who are making their clean accounts available to organised crime so that the anti-fraud algorithms in banks can be subverted.

"If you go to transfer money from outside the jurisdiction the anti-fraud algorithms pick up on it. If you transfer money, less than £10,000 to a bank account open for a number of years or a non-fraud category account, that goes through, enabling this transfer to happen."

Judge Rafferty said he wanted all such cases identified and he wanted that information by next week.

Earlier, Linda Mayanne Duff (36), of Crossland Court, Belfast, pleaded guilty to five charges of acquiring criminal property in sums ranging from £5,000-£10,000, and a further eight charges of fraud by false representation, all on December 6, 2107.

Defence counsel Bobbie Lee Herdman said that Ms Duff was a carer for her disabled son, to which Judge Rafferty said that was "a common thread running through the selection of what is known as internet smurfs".

The judge told Ms Duff, to be sentenced in the new year, she would receive "full credit" for her guilty pleas.

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