Over £2 million worth of assets frozen in February by Economic Crime Unit

Crime / Thu 14th Mar 2024 at 07:19am

TWO million pounds worth of assets have been frozen, and 15 arrests have been made as part of a month long intensification period in February 2024 under Operation Henhouse, led by the Serious Economic Crime Unit within Essex Police.  

Essex Police’s Economic Crime Unit investigate offences which include romance scams, online market place scams, rogue traders, investment scams, bribery and corruption. 

These crimes can have a devastating impact on not only the finances of individuals, but the wellbeing of those manipulated, deceived and defrauded, alongside the impact on the economy.

In February 2024, our Economic Crime Unit made 15 arrests and secured 26 charges in relation to ongoing fraud investigations. 

24 of the charges were secured against one individual, as part of an investigation where Vodaphone had been defrauded out of around £10,000. 

On Monday, 4 March, Akanise Saukawa, 42 of Wickham Lane, London was charged with 11 counts of fraud by false representation, 11 counts of possession of possession of articles for use in fraud and two counts of possession of a false passport or bank card. 

As well as this, the unit froze £2,105,659.59 in assets which were suspected to have been illegally obtained.  

One of the arrests made formed part of an investigation into fraudulent activity taking place on Facebook Marketplace whereby victims were shown a fake banking app by the offender believing he had paid for the item they were selling. 

Another arrest made was a man suspected of being a ‘rogue trader’ following reports of 25 people being scammed when buying solar panels. 

Detective Sergeant Rachel Barrett, who led the operational activity, said “We are extremely proud of the work that has been done to proactively tackle fraud and protect the public. 

“The work that has gone into freezing over two million pounds worth of assets is particularly impressive and allows us to protect an investigation and understand how much of that amount is criminal gains. 

“In addition to these arrests, charges and assets frozen, our Prevent and Protect Team have also been engaged in a number of public engagements, to provide advice and support to our communities around fraud. In total 446 face to face engagements were achieved which has no doubt been informative for the public and protected further people falling victim. 

Detective Chief Inspector Ashley Howard, Head of Economic and Cyber Crime in Essex Police, said, 

“Our Serious Economic Crime Unit are committed to proactively investigating reports of fraud, money laundering, bribery and corruption. As specialist fraud investigators, the team work with a wide range of partners to prevent fraud, share information and take enforcement action where the information supports this. 

“The outcomes of the intensification activity has seen victims supported, offenders arrested and charged, with a large amount of suspected criminal assets removed from circulation.”If you, or someone you know, has been the victim of fraud or cyber crime, you can report via Action Fraud online: Action Fraud

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