AN ISLE of Wight woman caught with more than £100,000 worth of criminal property has been sentenced for the part she played in a money mule network.

Rachel Stephanie Herd, of Arctic Road in Cowes, admitted concealing, converting, disguising, or removing £111,339.60 of criminal property between January 1, 2017, and May 9, 2018.

The 54-year-old was handed a 12-month prison term, suspended for two years, to include 15 rehabilitation days.

Herd was involved in a complex fraud and money laundering operation; one which saw two men jailed.

Gary Taylor of Manor Road in South Norwood, and Samuel Bryant of Cornflower Way in Melksham were both handed jail terms - of 20 and 28 months respectively.

A third man in Tyrone Christie, of Riverside Drive in Mitcham, Surrey, is due to be sentenced in January. 

The money laundering offences were born out of cyber-enabled payment diversion fraud activity that occurred between February and April, 2017.

During this period, victims were defrauded cumulatively to the tune of more than £200,000.

The fraud involved email accounts of victims in North Yorkshire and in London being compromised, and money transfers – including funds from the sale of a house on one particular occasion – being intercepted and diverted to fraudulent bank accounts.

From there, the stolen money was transferred through various personal bank accounts, with large sums also being spent or withdrawn including from banks and at a London casino.

Police Staff Investigator Daniel Culling, who led the investigation, said: “The offenders in this case were part of a sophisticated operation which saw large sums of money fraudulently and maliciously taken from victims, before being laundered, transferred and concealed.

“The court found that among those convicted and sentenced today were the key players in the laundering arm of this operation.

“Investigations into these types of offences are incredibly complex, but through dedicated police enquiries, which were supported by diligent banking staff raising suspicions to police, this criminal operation was successfully dismantled.

“The initial fraud was facilitated through the infiltration of victims’ email accounts, before money from financial transactions was diverted into criminal bank accounts.

“I hope that cases such as these help raise awareness of the risks we all face online, act as a reminder to be wary of suspicious emails, and encourage people to only open emails from people they trust.”