Bar workers used bank accounts to launder fraud cash

Gary Leighfield arrives at Portsmouth Crown Court
Gary Leighfield arrives at Portsmouth Crown Court
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TWO men have been spared jail after laundering cash stolen in hacks on a care home firm and businesswoman.

Stefan Georgiev, 36, and Gary Leighfield, 27 – who live in St Helens Close and Highland Road, Southsea, respectively – were involved in laundering cash from the cyber crimes.

Portsmouth Crown Court heard £50,000 was stolen from the victims in the scams.

Sentencing, judge Hetherington said: ‘While the circumstances are irrelevant to the offences, both were online hacking frauds, where the victims were deceived into making bank payments they would not have otherwise.

‘Georgiev was very close to the fraud itself – there were e-mails which clearly showed that the money laundering was in place before the offence was carried out.

Georgiev was given a 22-month sentence, suspended for two years, and 180 hours of unpaid work.

He had previously admitted a money laundering offence.

Leighfield was given a 12-month sentence, suspended for two years, and 150 hours of unpaid work.

He was convicted of entering into or becoming concerned in a money laundering arrangement at a trial.

In June jurors were told the pair met at Drift bar in Southsea, where Georgiev was the manager and Leighfield was security.

Leighfield had told police he was asked to help Georgiev transfer cash for a wedding, which he was hiding from his parents-in-law.

The laundering followed a fraud on a northern care home company in 2014 – as well as an independent businesswoman – who were tricked into transferring money to Georgiev’s bank account.

The court was told that Georgiev’s involvement in the scheme puts him towards the top of the hierarchy – while Leighfield’s involvement was less significant, consisting of laundering the money once it was transferred.

The court heard when targeting the victims, fake email accounts were used to trick the victims into transferring cash – in one instance posing as Virgin Media.

In a statement read out in court, the owner of the firm explained that the scam had caused major damage to his company, which is still in special measures at the bank and has caused stress for company directors.

Jordan Franks, for Leighfield, said his motivation were not necessarily malicious.

He said: ‘The defendant felt as though he had an obligation to Georgiev, who had helped him out in the past.

‘Text messages also show that he wanted to buy “nice things” for his girlfriend at the time.’

The court head the two had both shown remorse.

The court heard Georgiev was now separated from his partner and at risk of not being able to visit his parents in his home country of Bulgaria – while Leighfield could have lost his job if jailed.