Milnrow money laundering pair found guilty as former council worker is also jailed

TWO Milnrow men have been found guilty of money laundering and a former Rochdale Council worker jailed for fraudulently transferring £80,000 to his friends.

Matthew Ravey, 28, of Weir Road, Rochdale also created false insolvency documents for himself and friends in an attempt to avoid reimbursing payday loan companies he was in debt to.

Ravey pleaded guilty to three counts of fraud and one count of theft and was sentenced to one year and six months.

Michael Frames of Hurstead Road, Milnrow pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering and was sentenced to complete 100 hours unpaid work.

Daniel Merriman, also of Hurstead Road, was sentenced at a previous hearing at Manchester’s Minshull Street Crown Court on January 8 to complete 80 hours unpaid work after pleading guilty to one count of money laundering.

Ravey’s career at Rochdale Borough Council began in October 2013, when he was hired as a business rates officer, earning just under £18,000.

In June 2016, an employee looked into a business rates refund that Ravey had processed after noticing it by chance.

Ravey had applied a period of empty property relief totalling £4,208 on a company named Kinetic Security Products Ltd, despite records showing the company dissolved in 2014.

He created a new bank account and creditor address associated with the business that in fact belonged to co-conspirators Richard Rigby, 29, of Windmill Court, Rochdale and 31-year-old Andrew Foster of Smithybridge Road, Littleborough respectively.

When confronted by a fellow employee, Ravey initially claimed he was correcting an existing error.

When it was pointed out there was no error, he began denying he ever accessed the account.

An internal investigation was launched and it was found that Ravey had altered banking and addresses of other businesses to make 26 separate fraudulent transfers between January 2015 and June 2016.

Among the transfers were two payments totalling £3,274 to Jason Hurst, 48, of Chorley Old Road, Bolton, who later admitted in police interview to spending the money on cocaine and prostitutes.
There were seven transfers to Frames of just under £15,000.

Frames was an NHS employee at the time and arranged the fraud using his NHS email account. He has since left the NHS.

In total, £73,232 was transferred to his friends including Merriman, 28, and Rigby.

Ravey’s works computer was also found to contain fraudulent insolvency documents.

The investigation revealed that he used these documents to obtain arrangements from loan companies to avoid paying off what he had borrowed – either having the loans written off or repayments on them significantly reduced.

The fraud was worth a total £80,517 and the loss to Rochdale Borough Council was worth £76,308.
Detective Constable Sarah Langley of GMP’s Fraud Disruption Team said:

“It’s clear from correspondence that Ravey imagined himself as some sort of criminal mastermind who’d concocted a fool-proof plan to get rich while avoiding his debtors.

“But frankly, the decision to use his employer’s email address to orchestrate it was one of many frankly bizarre factors in his ill-considered scam.

“After being confronted, he even tried to deny he’d done anything wrong – despite the paper chain from his computer clearly implicated him and his co-conspirators in his desperately flawed con job.

“Let’s not forget this was public money. Everyone – not least taxpayers in Rochdale – should be disgusted by his actions.”

Ravey pleaded guilty to three counts of fraud and one count of theft and was sentenced to one year and six months.

Foster pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering and was sentenced to complete 54 hours unpaid work.

Rigby was sentenced at a previous hearing on February 4 to complete 64 hours unpaid work after pleading guilty to one count of money laundering.

Hurst was sentenced at a previous hearing on November 21 to complete 100 hours unpaid work after pleading guilty to one count of theft.

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