Man went missing for years after withdrawing mystery cash that dropped into bank
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A man disappeared for more than three years after helping himself to huge sums of money which mysteriously began appearing and disappearing from his bank account.
Andrew Staple, 33, was arrested and sentenced after admitting he started withdrawing cash in the brief windows when the sums were available to him.
They turned out to be part of a £54,000 international money laundering con and he had been missing since failing to appear for sentencing in 2018.
The convicted robber and fraudster was found in March and pleaded guilty to two offences of retaining a wrongful credit and one of absconding.
A judge heard the cash being funneled through his account in 2015 had been illegally intercepted by an unknown criminal third party in a sophisticated international diversion fraud.
Staple was spared jail at Exeter Crown Court after Hollie Gilbery, mitigating, said he had a difficult upbringing but was no longer using drugs and alcohol and had found religion.
He was given a suspended sentence and told to do unpaid work after it was heard he had settled in North Devon and had stayed out of trouble having come from London with a history of dishonesty.
Recorder Mathew Turner said: "You must have known at least when the money went into your account on December 23 that it was fraudulently obtained and consented to the course of action. However there is no evidence that you had knowledge of what the underlying fraud was."
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Staple was jailed for 14 months, suspended for 12 months and told to do 200 hours of unpaid work.
The cash was transferred out of Staple's account almost immediately after arriving, in one instance to an account in Nigeria, and never recovered, DevonLive reports.
Prosecutor Mr Herc Ashworth said on December 23 £14,457 was credited to Staple's NatWest account.
The money had originated from a company in Italy but was intercepted and diverted to Staple's bank account before it could reach its legal destination.
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Once in his account the funds were dispersed on the same day to three separate accounts, including the one in Nigeria.
Seven days later the fraud happened again.
This time £39,443 was intercepted soon after leaving the account of a company in the Middle East.
Once again the money was quickly moved from Staple's bank to the same three accounts.
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Mr Ashworth said large sums were also put in and taken out of Staple's ex partner's account, before being dispersed again.
Staple told police he had opened the account while serving time for robbery at HMP Belmarsh in May 2015.
He said he guessed the money came from some kind of fraud and had helped himself to some of it before it could be dispersed.
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This included £300 from the cashpoint.
Mr Ashworth said Staple made no comment about how his mobile phone banking app had been used for some transactions.
Nobody else has been identified by police.
The defendant, of Ilfracombe, has 25 previous crimes including burglary, theft by an employee and handling stolen goods, was jailed for four years in 2012 for a violent robbery and also has a history of dishonesty and failing to surrender.
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