HP says pay cash always. http://www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/crime-bosses-making-millions-from-chip-and-pin-machines-in-london-brothels-a3086761.htmlCrime bosses 'making millions from chip and pin machines in London brothels'
Crime bosses are raking in millions of pounds in illegal profits from the increasing use of chip and pin machines in brothels, says Scotland Yard.
The force revealed it is uncovering “huge volumes” of money being generated by vice dens, which are switching to credit and debit cards instead of traditional cash.
Detectives investigating the finances of organised crime gangs say the more frequent use of chip and pin machines in brothels is often driven by the demand of businessmen with corporate credit cards.
A gang was jailed in June after a court heard they supplied such machines to brothels in Camden and Westminster.
Bogus hospitality firms were set up by Ashley Sheldrick, 50, and Terrence Hart, 46, using the East Village nightclub in Shoreditch as a front. They then supplied machines to at least seven brothels, raking in £12 million in three years.
A study last year found that prostitution contributed more than £5 billion a year to the UK economy, with a significant slice of the total coming from London.
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Det Supt Nick Stevens, head of Scotland Yard’s Central Criminal Finance Team, said: “The amount of money going through these brothels is absolutely huge. A significant amount is chip and pin. It seems that cards are becoming a more prevalent way to pay. We are uncovering more and more organised crime in relation to this area.”
Det Sgt Geoff Donoghue, of the CCFT, said criminals were capitalising on an increasing willingness of punters to use credit cards in brothels, “especially corporate ones in central London”. He said criminals set up anonymous corporate hospitality companies as a front for the use of chip and pin machines.
Police also revealed they are seizing record sums of cash from criminals using the Proceeds of Crime Act in a new effort to target gangs’ finances.
The Met seized £66 million under the Act last year, against £57 million the year before. Officers say they particularly target couriers moving big sums of cash round London for criminal Mr Bigs.
Last year the Met finance teams seized a record £27 million from so-called criminal couriers — up 44 per cent.
In one case officers recovered £1.4 million in cash from a courier after he was stopped in a Notting Hill street with 183,000 euros in his rucksack. The rest of the cash was found hidden in cupboards at his home.
In another case police got a tip-off that Pamesh Sharma, 26, was using his car to deliver cash to money launderers. When officers stopped him they found £75,000 in cash hidden in the speaker in the boot of his BMW.
A raid on his home in Hayes found four hand guns and £750,000 worth of heroin and ketamine. Sharma was jailed for nine years by Isleworth crown court in May. Det Supt Stevens said police are increasingly targeting the finances of crime bosses in a bid to tackle the operations of gangs.
He added: “We are using the same techniques that we deploy to get guns and drugs but now we are using them to get criminals’ cash. So instead of going after organised criminals for drugs, gun running or prostitution we will tackle them in relation to criminal finance, the money laundering, and then work back from there.”
Det Supt Stevens said crime bosses used people with no criminal convictions to carry cash around the city. He said there were “dozens of occasions” when police had seized “hundreds of thousands of pounds” from couriers.
“On a lot of occasions it will be going to a money service bureau,” he added. “They can be pretty blatant. Sometimes we’ll find a professional hide in a vehicle, other times they’ll just be walking along the road with a suitcase.
“We tend to find the Mr Bigs are quite happy to go to prison for three to five years but they are not so happy to lose their property and their lifestyle.”
The new tactic has seen the arrest of a number of individuals linked to alleged major crime gangs in London in recent months. Police say they are encountering organised crime groups “from around the world”.
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