Man is on trial for international fraud

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A Redgrave man is accused of being involved in an international £5.7 million fraud, centred on escort agencies and a debt elimination scheme.

Colin Samuels, 61, of The Street, is one of five people to be charged with conspiracy to defraud and money laundering.

Nic Lobbenberg, prosecuting, told a jury at Ipswich Crown Court this week that Samuels is accused of using the company EBA Ltd, of which he was a director, to launder £3,271,000 between November 2009 and November 2010.

He said Samuels acted as a ‘front man’ for the operation by allowing his business bank account to be used.

Samuels has denied two offences of conspiracy to defraud and two further offences of money laundering.

It is alleged he was part of a conspiracy in which call centres in Turkey and Spain were used to trick people in the UK into paying up-front fees to register with escort agencies.

They were promised £600 a week payments in return for undertaking just two dinner dates.

People were recruited for promised ‘non-sexual’ dates through websites - including European Escorts, Beautiful Adults and AdoraBelles - and they each paid fees of more than £300, the court was told.

Mr Lobbenberg told the jury that no money was handed over by the alleged conspirators and the fees that they collected were not refunded.

Instead, the money was transferred out of the country using a network of bank accounts.

The second fraud alleged is said to have involved people with large credit card debts in the UK being ‘cold-called’ from Spain and offered the chance to have their debts eliminated in return for a fee, charged to their credit card.

Many of the people duped had been desperate, said Mr Lobbenberg.

He said: “This fraud is about promising debt elimination that simply does not exist.”

Also on trial are Mark Bell, 41, of Westerfield, Christopher Taylor, 57, from Wakefield, West Yorkshire, Bradley Rogers, 29, from Malaga, and Geraldine French, 60, of Lowestoft.

The trial, which is expected to last for eight weeks, continues.