Sunday, 14 February 2016

Former bank manager jailed after Carlisle detectives crack Champagne scam

A sophisticated £14,500 nationwide Champagne scam has been foiled in Carlisle with conman and former bank manager Patrick Osiegbu behind bars.

Patrick Osiegbu photo
Patrick Osiegbu

Fraudster Osiegbu used cloned credit cards to steal cases of Champagne worth thousands across the country, but yesterday he was brought to justice thanks to a team of Carlisle detectives.

Osiegbu made a series of bogus bookings at hotels across the UK, ordering cases of Veuve Clicquot Champagne and other high-class drinks. He then hired a courier to spirit away the booze before he cancelled the booking.

But the US-born thief, whose fraud was estimated to be worth some £14,500, is today in jail after a court heard how detectives from Carlisle finally put an end to his crimes.

Osiegbu, 31, who was born in the US but has been living in London since 2005, admitted five counts of fraud. He was jailed for 18 months.

Prosecutor Andrew Carney told the court how Osiegbu, a former manager with the HSBC Bank in London, used a false name and cloned credit cards to order top quality wines and Champagne from branches of Majestic Wines.

He had the alcohol delivered to hotels where he had earlier reserved a room, again using stolen credit card details.

Once the wines were delivered, he would have them collected by a private courier, and moved to addresses in London.

It was when Osiegbu tried to repeat the scam in Cumbria that Carlisle CID got involved, and launched an investigation that finally led to his arrest.

On February 4 last year, the fraudster ordered £800 worth of Veuve Clicquot Champagne and other wines from the Kingstown Road branch of Majestic Wines in Carlisle, specifying that it should be delivered to the Hallmark Hotel in the city’s Court Square.

He also ordered cases of expensive drinks from the Majestic Wines in Kendal – to go to the town’s Premier Inn.

Osiegbu was unaware the scam was being monitored.

After weeks of investigation, officers collected the evidence to prove that the fraudster – who used the false name Richard Taylor 19 times at stores across England, including Ipswich, Stevenage, Bristol – was actually the defendant. It is not known what became of the stolen drinks.

Osiegbu’s defence barrister Elizabeth Muir said he was a man of hitherto good character.

After leaving his job as an HSBC premiere relations manager, he set up a business which ran into difficulty in the recession.

Passing sentence, Judge Peter Hughes QC said that, as a former manager with a major bank, Osiegbu must have known what anxiety such frauds can cause.

Commenting after the case, Detective Constable Steve Whitehead said: “Cumbria Police treat this kind of crime very seriously, and the sentence shows that the courts do too.”


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