Harpenden fraudster to hand over £56k pension pot: St Albans Crown Court

PUBLISHED: 16:41 08 July 2016 | UPDATED: 16:41 08 July 2016

St Albans Crown Court made the order

St Albans Crown Court made the order

Archant

Crime has not paid for a Harpenden fraudster who has been ordered to hand over his entire £56,000 pension pot directly to his overseas victim.

Neil Sims, 51, from Harpenden, was jailed for 30 months in February for fraud after he conned a woman in the United States out of $100,000 (£60,750).

Yesterday (Thursday), St Albans Crown Court ordered the early release of Sims’ pension pot, using the Proceeds of Crime Act and a new piece of legislation called a ‘Compliance Order’. All of the money will be given in compensation to the victim.

Sims had once been a successful estate agent in Harpenden, owning a £1.5m property business.

He retired four years ago from the Harpenden branch of Harrison Murray, where he had been a former branch partner.

However, he lost his fortune in spread betting on the futures market. Sims then turned to fraud, convincing his victim that he was a successful financial trader with 20 years’ experience, providing false references to ‘verify’ these claims.

The conman then persuaded the woman to send him $100,000. But, instead of investing the funds, they were used for spread betting on the futures market. Over a 48-hour period all the funds provided by the victim had been lost.

Financial investigators identified that the only asset Sims still had was £56,058 in a pension pot that he had accumulated over many years.

The Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU), which provides specialist policing, including covert, secured the court order to hand over the pension funds under new legislation.

Commenting after the successful outcome, Detective Inspector Christopher Day from the Regional Economic Crime Unit, said: “This order means we are able to compensate the victim to a large amount of the money she lost and I hope that it brings some comfort to her.

“This case should serve as a warning that we will use all available avenues to strip criminals of their assets in order to get back the money they have taken, regardless of whether those assets were gained through criminality.”

He added: “We are committed to relentlessly pursuing criminals to ensure that crime really does not pay.”

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