Money launderer ordered to pay back scam victims

Two elderly Buckinghamshire residents, fleeced by cowboy roofers of hundreds of thousands of pounds for work valued at £577, will get some of their money back.

Gary Booker, the man convicted last July of laundering the money, has been ordered to pay back almost a quarter of a million pounds.

Aylesbury Crown Court Judge Francis Sheridan last Friday (February 17) imposed a confiscation order for £241,226.41 on Mr Booker. He was found to have benefited from the crime to the tune of £439,395.

In 2013 a scam gang conned the two residents out of £300,000 for roofing work, then came back posing as Trading Standards officers who said they’d recovered the money, and charged them an extra £600,000 in up-front recovery fees.

Last July the Crown Court jailed55-year-old sole company director Gary Andrew Booker, of Queens Avenue, Byfleet, Surrey, for three and a half years after he was found guilty on 17 counts of money laundering under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

The jury in July were told Mr Booker allowed £435,000 to be paid into his business account, which was then quickly paid out in cash amounts of between £10,000 and £60,000.

Last Friday the judge ordered Mr Booker to pay the confiscation cash as compensation to the two victims within three months, or he faces a further three and a half years in jail.

Margaret Aston, Buckinghamshire County Council Cabinet Member for Community Engagement, said the lengthy investigation was testament to the painstaking work by the joint Trading Standards and Thames Valley Police team.

“These are never straightforward investigations and require patience, determination and great skill,” she said. “In a case where we weren’t able to identify the original fraudsters, our team have shown with absolute clarity the value of financial investigation to establish the wider criminality involved, and to get compensation for the elderly victims.”