Spalding: Three jailed for conspiracy to blackmail
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Three men who impersonated police officers in a conspiracy to extort cryptocurrency have been jailed.
The conviction is said to be the first of its kind in the country.
Thomas Green, 24, of Tollet Street, London, and Leonardo Sapiano, 24, of Invicta Close, London were sentenced to four years and nine months for conspiring to blackmail.
Rayhan Miah, 24, of Monteagle Avenue, Barking was handed a sentence of three years and two months for conspiring to blackmail.
All three men entered guilty pleas at an earlier hearing and were sentenced at Lincoln Crown Court last Friday (7 July).
At 11.03am on Tuesday 6 September 2022, we received reports that three men were acting suspiciously, and had jumped a fence, in the Spalding Common area.
The three men made off in a blue Volkswagen Golf and were shortly stopped by officers. The car was searched and an imitation firearm, a taser, a baseball bat and police uniform in the boot was found and seized.
Inquiries by detectives from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) found that the three men had travelled from London.
They had intended to deceive their way into the victim’s home and then attempt to blackmail and use the fear of violence to force the victim into transferring a sum of cryptocurrency to them.
Cryptocurrency is a form of digital or virtual currency, similar to PayPal or bank credit, that can be bought or traded online. It is decentralised, meaning it is not controlled by a government, but by an algorithm and users themselves.
Messages found on Green, Miah and Sapiano’s phones showed the victim’s personal details, and it was later revealed they had obtained this information on the dark web.
It was also discovered that the police uniform found in the boot of the car was hired from a production props company using false details.
Green, Miah and Sapiano were arrested and charged on 8 September with the following:
Intent to cause loss to another to make an unwarranted demand of cryptocurrency from a person
Impersonating a police constable
Possession of an imitation firearm
Possession of a taser
Detectives worked in collaboration with Thames Valley Police, the National Crime Agency (NCA), and City of London Police to ensure a thorough investigation.
Detective Constable Kerry-Anne Kinroy who led the investigation said: “I am pleased we were able to build such a strong case that resulted in custodial sentences for the men involved.
"I’m grateful to my team for all of their hard work and would also like to give thanks to our colleagues in Thames Valley Police, the NCA and the City of London Police for their assistance in the investigation.”
Detective Inspector Richard Nethercott from Boston and South Holland CID said: “I would like to give thanks to DC Kinroy and her team for carrying out an extremely thorough investigation.
“The case involved working with different police forces and utilised specialist knowledge of Economic Crime and Digital Media, and there were some elements of the investigation that Kerry and her team had not encountered before.
“Their dedication and hard work are evident in this case and the three men now face substantial prison sentences because of it.”
Detective Constable Glen Shiels from the Cyber Crime Unit Specialist Operations at City of London Police said: “I am thoroughly impressed with the professionalism and effectiveness into this complex, cyber-enabled crime investigation by DC Kinroy and the wider Lincolnshire Police team.
“Tackling cybercrime is a national effort and I am proud to be of assistance to our colleagues to achieve a great result.”