Canning Town money mule gets suspended jail sentence after church conned out of £100k
PUBLISHED: 16:17 23 August 2019 | UPDATED: 16:28 23 August 2019
A money mule who helped in a scam which saw a church conned out of almost £100,000 has been given a suspended jail sentence.
Sarah Lodge of Barking Road, Canning Town, was one of four people convicted over the transfer of money laundered by ringleader Isaac Andrews from Morden in Surrey.
The 43-year old received a one year prison sentence suspended for two years and was ordered to carry out 80 hours unpaid work after being found guilty of money-laundering at Woolwich Crown Court on Friday, August 23.
Det Sgt Jon Saxby said: "This was a complex investigation that sends a clear message to criminals that no matter how much time has passed your crimes will catch up with you in the end."
The victim of the fraud thought she was carrying out the instructions of a senior official from the Oxfordshire-based church not realising emails appearing to be from him contained an extra dot in the sender's address.
Money intended for a new community centre ended up in Lodge's bank account along with fellow mules, George Twum-Barima, 24, from Southampton; Afizz Olanrewaju, 28, from Tilbury and Sean Doyle, 34, from Laindon.
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The four gave others access to their personal data in exchange for a cut of proceeds totalling £98,550, taken in seven transactions between October 30 and November 12, 2014.
Detectives were alerted to the con after suspicions grew when £68,650 was discovered in one of two accounts belonging to a woman in Gravesend.
Andrews was arrested in May 2017 after being identified as the link between the mules and the man responsible for the money laundering operation.
Det Sgt Saxby said: "There has been an emerging trend where offenders persuade vulnerable people or students to allow them to use their bank accounts, sometimes in exchange for a percentage of the cash sent to them.
"Whether the account owner benefits or not, by making their account available they have become criminally involved in the money-laundering process.
"Ignorance is not an excuse and could land you before the courts," he added.
Andrews, 43, was jailed for three years for money laundering. Twum-Barima and Doyle were each sentenced to six month prison sentences suspended for two years.
Olanrewaju got a nine month prison sentence, suspended for two years.