Two men are standing trial for defrauding Exeter students out of thousands of pounds in accommodation deposits.
Shaker Javaid and Alex Stocks, 32 and 30, deny conspiracy to launder the proceeds of crime, after Exeter Crown Court heard that payments of thousands of pounds were channeled through Moneygram and bank accounts across the country. Mr Javaid also denies six counts of retaining or transferring proceeds of crime, while Mr Stocks denies one count of enabling the retention of the proceeds of crime.
In addition to the accommodation deposits, the pair are also accused of stealing tens of thousands of pounds which were extorted or swindled through internet crimes, the court heard. Some students had also paid by bank transfer, with this money being traced to accounts in Lancashire.
The victims came from Europe and Asia – including as far away as China – and some were forced to hand over cash after their families were threatened, according to the Express and Echo. One victim handed over more than £30,000 after being blackmailed, the court were told.
Miss Mary McCarthy, prosecuting, said: “These men first came to the attention of the police in 2009 after a number of students booked and paid deposits for accommodation”.
She added: “When they arrived here in Exeter they found they had been fooled and conned and the accommodation they paid for was not available”.
“We cannot say they were contacting victims but they provided the means by which the proceeds could be laundered. Their accounts received the money which was transferred”.
The Echo has also reported that Mr. Stocks told police he was asked to set up the account by his former workmate Javaid and knew neither the provenance nor destination of the money in question.
A third year student commented: “It is upsetting to see students being targeted in this way, and I hope that those responsible are brought to justice. I would also like to see affirmative action from the University and Guild to make sure that all is being done to protect vulnerable students from this kind of criminal activity”.
The University have refused to comment, as the case is ongoing.
Owen Keating, News Editorbookmark me