Monday, 26 October 2020

Cheerleader spent fraud cash on luxury shopping trip

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ESSEX: A cheerleader who spent cash conned out of pensioners by going on luxury shopping trips has admitted money laundering.

Model Rebecca Batchelor, 21, of Helena Road, Rayleigh, was part of a “ruthless” fraud run by brothers Amin and Anis Ben-Sghaier.

The pair scammed elderly victims out of about £250,000 and used the cash to fund their own lifestyles.

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They claimed to work for a company called AJ Auctioneers and cold called their victims, offering to sell them investments in rare earth metals, diamonds and wine.

Chelmsford Crown Court heard Batchelor, a cheerleader at Billericay Town FC, was in a relationship with Anis and had helped him draft a letter to a victim.

The court heard she received £2,535 from a victim called Mr Singh, which she spent on a shopping spree, including a £517 lunch at a London restaurant.

Batchelor, known as Bekka, initially denied money laundering but changed her plea after the first day of her trial.

Anis, 25, a trader, of Chelsea Way, Brentwood, admitted conspiracy to commit fraud between January 2013 and September 2016.

Amin, 27, of Collins Meadow, Harlow, admitted the same charge.

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Beau Bown, 27, of Kitson Way, Harlow, admitted money laundering between September 2013 and September 2016.

Bilal Ben-Sghaier, 22, a cleaner, of Collins Meadow, Harlow, was charged with money laundering between February 2013 and September 2016.

There were ten victims in total, who were persuaded to pay fees and taxes associated with auctions.

But the auctions never took place and they were never paid the money they were owed.

One victim was promised £163,000 from the sale of rare earth metals. He never received the money but lost his life savings of £190,000 to the fraudsters. Another man also lost his life savings and his home.

In most cases, the fraud was carried out over the phone or email and the victims never met the alleged representatives of the auction company.

Detectives found the money paid by the victims went into accounts connected to Amin and Anis, their younger brother Bilal, Anis’ former girlfriend Rebecca Batchelor, and Amin’s former girlfriend Beau Bown.

The money was used to fund their lifestyles, including holidays, eating out, clubbing, cosmetic procedures and clothing.

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Det Chief Insp Lee Morton, of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: “This was a ruthless fraud, in which the defendants had absolutely no regard for the devastating impact they would have on their victims.

“Ten people lost large sums of their hard earned money – in some cases their life savings and home – causing huge distress. One of the victims sadly died in January this year before seeing justice done.

“They trusted the men they had dealings with, who we now know were Amin and Anis Ben-Sghaier, who were convincing and persuasive.

“The five defendants benefited from this organised scam and spent money that was not theirs.

“It is possible that other people who have not yet come forward have fallen victim to this fraud.

“We’d urge anyone who believes they have been a victim to please contact Essex Police.”

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