Finance ace convicted over role in £21m Bitcoin scam

·2-min read
Some of the cash and gold obtained during the Bitcoin scam
Some of the cash and gold obtained during the Bitcoin scam

A FINANCIAL advisor from East Lancs is facing a possible jail sentence after being convicted of helping to launder the proceeds of a £21m crypto-currency racket.

Money expert Stephen William Boys, 58, was in the dock alongside four others, accused of using Australian currency exchange Coinspot for the swindle.

Prosecutors say the Bitcoin fiddle was masterminded by the late James Parker, from Blackpool, who exploited a loophole on the platform to dishonestly withdraw £15m. Two accomplices also similarly secured £2.7m and £1.7m, Boys, who once ran his own financial planning firm in Accrington, worked with a Dubai-based advisor to convert the crypto-currency into cash, say investigators.

And this loot was then laundered through a variety of foreign online accounts so the fraudsters could benefit.

Jurors at Preston Crown Court have now convicted Boys, of Winster Close, Clayton-le-Moors, of two counts of converting and transferring criminal property.

His co-defendant Kelly Caton, 44, from Blackpool, Jordan Kane Robinson, 23, from Fleetwood, and James Austin-Beddoes, 27, also Blackpool, were found guilty of fraud and money laundering. He admitted to a related money laundering count earlier in the proceedings. All five will be sentenced on September 9.

Parker, who masterminded the scam between October 2017 and January 2018, died in January 2021 but investigators still secured a £1m civil recovery order against his estate.

Boys was behind Total Financial Planning Services, which folded in September 2019. It had only been established in April 2018 and James Parker was a fellow director.

Detectives say that a “very significant amount” of the laundered money has now been returned or is in the process of being recovered on behalf of the Australian crypto-currency exchange.

Jonathan Kelleher, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said later: “These offenders used the internet from the comfort of their own homes to obtain tens of millions of pounds worth of Bitcoin which did not belong to them. Cyber-enabled crime presents an increasing threat to international economic stability, as well as to honest individual investors in crypto-currency.

“Painstaking analysis of vast amounts of digital material and collaborative liaison with the Australian and Finnish authorities enabled us to mount a successful prosecution against these criminals.”

Det Sgt David Wainwright, of Lancashire Police, added: “This was a complex case in which these offenders have now been brought to justice. I would like to thank everyone who worked as a team, together with our partner agencies, to achieve this.”