Two men have been jailed for money laundering following a long and complex investigation by Hampshire police.

The offences followed fraud activity in which the victims were cheated out of more than £200,000 between February and April 2017.

The email accounts of people and London and North Yorkshire were compromised.

Money transfers, including funds from a house sale, were intercepted by the gang and diverted to fraudulent bank accounts.

From there, the stolen money was transferred through various personal bank accounts, with large sums also being spent or withdrawn, including from banks and a London casino.

Daily Echo: Samuel Bryant was described in court as one of the key players in the operationSamuel Bryant was described in court as one of the key players in the operation (Image: Hampshire police)

A police investigation launched in 2018 led officers to the home of 49-year-old Tyrone Christie, also known as Tyrone Trim.

An examination of his computer unearthed documentation providing evidence of a 'money-mule' network, including invoices, letters and other documentation in the names of individuals involved in the dissipation of funds from both frauds.

Banking activity linked to Christie involved large transfers and withdrawals of cash dating back to 2016 – pre-dating the fraud.'

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A number of people were arrested and charged, two of whom were found guilty at Portsmouth Crown Court on May 3 following a trial that began on April 17.

Christie, of Riverside Drive in Mitcham, Surrey, was found guilty of being involved in money laundering.

Gary Taylor, 58, of Manor Road in South Norwood, was found guilty of one count of being involved in money laundering and one of concealing, converting, disguising, or removing £100,134 of criminal property.

Daily Echo: The criminals were sentenced at Portsmouth Crown CourtThe criminals were sentenced at Portsmouth Crown Court (Image: Newsquest.)

At previous hearings prior to the trial, other defendants pleaded guilty to various offences.

Samuel Bryant, 34, formerly of Cornflower Way in Melksham, Wiltshire, pleaded guilty to concealing, disguising, converting, transferring or removing £70,023 of criminal property.

Rachel Herd, 54, of Arctic Road in Cowes, pleaded guilty to concealing, converting, disguising, or removing £111,339.60 of criminal property.

Fabian Thomas, 32, of Ashley Road in Bristol, pleaded guilty to concealing, converting, disguising, or removing £20,000 of criminal property.

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Portsmouth Crown Court heard that Christie and Bryant were key players in the operation, with Bryant described as acting in an "operational" role. Taylor was described by the judge as having a "significant" role.

Bryant, Taylor, Herd, and Thomas were sentenced today (Friday).

Bryant and Taylor were jailed for 28 months and 20 months respectively. Herd was handed a 12-month sentence, suspended for two years, a community order, and a requirement to complete 15 days of rehabilitation activity.

Thomas was jailed for four months, suspended for 18 months. He was also ordered to complete 25 days of rehabilitation activity and 100 hours of unpaid work.

Christie will be sentenced on January 31 next year.

Police Staff Investigator Daniel Culling, who led the investigation, said: “The offenders in this case were part of a sophisticated operation which saw large sums of money fraudulently and maliciously taken from victims, before being laundered, transferred and concealed.

“The court found that among those convicted and sentenced today were the key players in the laundering arm of this operation.

“Investigations into these types of offences are incredibly complex, but through dedicated police enquiries, which were supported by diligent banking staff raising suspicions to police, this criminal operation was successfully dismantled.

“The initial fraud was facilitated through the infiltration of victims’ email accounts, before money from financial transactions was diverted into criminal bank accounts.

“I hope cases such as this help raise awareness of the risks we all face online, act as a reminder to be wary of suspicious emails, and encourage people to open emails only from people they trust."