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Criminals who acquire money through illegal means forced to pay it back

A specialist policing team dedicated to stripping the money and assets of criminals in the East of England has recovered over £1 million since the start of the year.

The Eastern Region Special Operations Unit’s (ERSOU) Asset Confiscation Enforcement (ACE) team works to ensure that criminals who acquire money through illegal means are forced to pay it back.

In one case, the team successfully oversaw the sale of two properties worth £838,400, linked to an uncle and nephew convicted of the UK’s largest ever payroll fraud.

Andrew Copp, 54, formerly of Cardy Road, Hemel Hempstead, and Joshua Copp, 28, formerly of Oliver’s Lane, Stotfold, Bedfordshire, were jailed in June 2017 following an investigation by Essex Police.

The pair were made subject to confiscation orders of £6,461,010 (Andrew) and £2,460,777 (Joshua) – the amount they are thought to have made through their illegal operation.

They were unable to pay back the amount at the time, and the money from the property sales will go towards meeting the orders, with investigators continuing to review any further assets.

In another example, the team revisited an investigation into Fahim Ishaq, 40, of Fengate, Peterborough, who was jailed for five years in April 2017 after being arrested at Heathrow Airport in possession of bank details belonging to other people.

As part of Ishaq’s sentence, he was ordered to repay £293,000, although at the time his available amount was only £96,000. After looking further into his finances in September 2019, the ACE team found that Ishaq held equity in property, an Audi A5 worth £20,000 and cash in bank accounts.

An uplift of £58,000 was then granted in January, with the amount to be distributed to his victims.

Financial investigation manager Nick Bentley said:

“The results so far this year again demonstrate the extensive work of our investigators, who are unrelenting in their pursuit of criminals’ money and assets.

“January was a particularly successful month in terms of recoveries, however we work tirelessly throughout the year to target those who have profited from the misery of others, and we’ll continue to make sure they pay back what is not rightfully theirs.

“I’d like to thank everyone involved for their tenacity and hard work in ensuring these criminals face justice.”