Two men ordered to compensate victims of wine fraud scam

Fri 23rd, Mar

Two men have been ordered to pay back nearly £200,000 in compensation to their victims, after deceiving them as part of a wine investment scam.

Two men have been ordered to pay back nearly £200,000 in compensation to their victims, after deceiving them as part of a wine investment scam. Onur Kemal Aslan, 30, of Mapleton Crescent, Enfield, and Abue Hanifa Bin Khalek, of West Close, Hoddesdon, were ordered to pay back £159,187 and £39,575 respectively, following a Proceeds of Crime Act (PoCA) hearing at St Albans’ Crown Court on Thursday (22 March). The money will be paid back to nine elderly and vulnerable victims who the duo tricked into investing in their fraudulently run company. The pair ran two fraudulent businesses, Clarex Wines and Permas, as a cover for their wine fraud. Victims were convinced to either invest their life savings into wine which never existed, or to transfer their existing wine assets into the bogus companies. The wine would then be sold without the victims’ knowledge and the proceeds kept by the offenders. They were arrested and jailed following an investigation by Hertfordshire Constabulary. A financial investigation was then launched by the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU), which led to the PoCA orders being made. The compensation will be paid out of assets seized from the offenders, including an Audi R8 Spyder, Rolex watches, and approximately £66,000 worth of stolen wine. Financial Investigator Claire Howard, from ERSOU’s Regional Economic Crime Unit, said: “These two men callously tricked elderly and vulnerable victims out of their hard earned money, convincing them to invest in wine which they would never see. “They frittered away their ill-gotten gains on frivolous purchases, seemingly unaware that the law would ever catch up with them. “We’re really pleased with the result of the PoCA hearing and hope it sends a strong message out to others that crime really never does pay.” Both men pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud in 2017. They were sentenced on 1 June at St Albans Crown Court, with Aslan receiving a six and a half year jail sentence, and Bin Khalek receiving a two year and seven month sentence.