• Grace Chukwu, 38, and Queen Chukwuka, 32, guilty of having criminal property
  • They were arrested and tried with eight other members of fraudster gang
  • Group used Internet scams sent to people’s emails to steal bank details 
  • They were found with thousands in account and spent money on designer shoes 

By Lara Keay For Mailonline

Published: 16:06 BST, 29 April 2019 | Updated: 16:07 BST, 29 April 2019

NHS nurse Grace Chukwu, 38, was allowed to stay home while a jury unravelled her part in a 10-person scam that robbed people of thousands of pounds.

Two women found guilty of being part of a gang of 10 fraudsters who swindled people out of thousands on the internet were allowed to stay at home during their £10million child to look after their children.

NHS nurse Grace Chukwu, 38, and her friend Queen Chukwuka, 32, were found guilty of possessing criminal property after a complex five-month trial that involved eight other defendants and cost the taxpayer millions.

But in an unprecedented move by the judge, both women, of Loughton, Essex, were allowed to stay at home with their children while the jury was left to unravel their scam.

Blackfriars Crown Court heard how mother-of-four Chukwuka had £350,000 of laundered money in her bank account when she and the other nine defendants, all originally from Nigeria, were arrested.

Her friend Chukwu, a mother-of-three, had spent the money she got from the scam on a show collection to ‘rival Imelda Marcos’, their trial was told.

The scam targeted people by emailing them with viruses that if they opened them would steal their personal details.

Other parts of the money were swindled by the gang using dating sites to trick people out of their money.

Mrs Chukwu was married to businessman Andrew Chukwu, 35, and together they led a ‘lavish lifestyle’, spending £90,000 on private education for their three children. Emmanuel Chukwuka (right) was part of the 10-man gang

It is believed to be the first time in UK legal history defendants have been given permission to avoid turning up to a crown court trial for reasons other than health.

The court heard Chukwu was married to businessman Andrew Chukwu, 35, and together they led a ‘lavish lifestyle’ on the proceeds of the swindle, spending £90,000 on private education for their three children.

Bonaventure Chukwuka was found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud, conspiracy to conceal criminal property and possessing a mobile phone in prison

When arrested at their £860,000 home, Mr Chukwu, claimed he ran a legitimate business with a yearly turn-over of just £16,840.

But investigators found Rolex and Cartier watches alongside his wife’s vast collection of designer shoes from brands that included Jimmy Choo, Gucci and Dior.

Grace Chukwu was still absent from her sentencing hearing today, which will conclude on Thursday, but she is expected to attend court tomorrow.

Queen Chukwuka appeared in the dock with her hair tied back.

Prosecutor John Hardy told the court: ‘The range and quantum was in this case infinite and the Crown’s position is if the conspiracy not been interrupted there is no telling how long it would have endured.’

‘Although the mechanics of the frauds vary in their details, the means by which they were committed are all more or less the same.

‘Those means involve the use of a large number of mobile telephones and laptop computers and similar devices.

Chukwu is said to have been found with a shoe collection to ‘rival Imelda Marcos’ (pictured) after taking money from an elaborate internet scam

‘Put another way, these are frauds which could not have been carried out in the way that they were before the age of the internet, and in particular, before the age of internet banking.

‘The money laundering charges relate to mule accounts used in order for the fraudster to make off with the money.’

One of the victims targeted by the gang was Liberal peer Lord Wrigglesworth, who lost £88,000.

Mr Hardy said Andrew Chukwu’s business was not highly profitable – according to his accounts.

Lord Wrigglesworth (pictured) was targeted by the gang of fraudsters, which Andrew Chukwu and his wife Grace were members of

‘His tax returns for the tax years 2014-2015 and 2016-2017 show a self-employed turnover of £16,840 and £16,684.

‘Of course, there was extra income, since his wife, Grace Chukwu, the tenth defendant worked full time as an NHS hospital nurse.

‘You do not need me to tell you that working as a nurse in the NHS is an admirable occupation.

‘But nor do you need me to tell you it is not, never has been, and cannot be the road to wealth and riches.

‘And these meagre incomes come nowhere near to explaining the lavish lifestyle which Andrew Chukwu and his wife enjoyed.

‘When their home address was searched, aside from the paperwork relating to school fees, expensive watches including Rolexes and Cartiers were found, a large collection of shoes almost enough to rival that of the late Imelda Marcos was found, some with receipts showing they cost over £500 and there were receipts for high end shopping in stores such as Harrods.

What were the verdicts?

Andrew Chukwu, of Loughton, Essex, denied but was found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation and conspiracy to conceal criminal property.

Grace Chukwu, of the same address, denied but was found guilty of possessing criminal property.

Emmanuel Chukwuka, 26, and Christian Chukwuka, 38, of Basildon, Essex, both denied but were found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation and conspiracy to conceal criminal property.

Christian Chukwuka was found guilty of both charges.

Bonaventure Chukwuka, of Loughton, Essex, denied but was found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation, conspiracy to conceal criminal property and possessing a mobile telephone in prison.

Queen Chukwuka, of the same address, denied but was found guilty of possessing criminal property.

Nadeem Abbasi, 48, of Wembley, north London, admitted conspiracy to conceal criminal property.

Mohammad Rahman, 31, of the same address, denied but was found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation and conspiracy to conceal criminal property.

Mansoor Zaman, 27, of Charlton, southeast London, denied but was found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation and conspiracy to conceal criminal property.

Mr Hardy said Queen Chukwuka’s highest annual income, shown on her tax return form, was just £2,590.41 in the tax year 2014/15.

But she recently earned £21,000 a year working for a company called Bon Concept LTD, and is listed as a director of that company.

Between January 2015 and December 2017 Queen Chukwuka, received cash deposits into her Barclays current account totalling £134,097.10, including cash from her husband Bonaventure Chukwuka, 41.

‘That comes as no surprise, since, between December 2017 and his on 26 January this year, Bonaventure Chukwuka received in his Nigerian bank accounts an eye-watering £587,566.28 some of which he transferred further to Queen Chukwuka,’ Mr Hardy said.

‘Queen Chukwuka says that she believed that Bonaventure Chukwuka operated a money transfer business. There is a rather sad ambiguity to this – too right he did.

‘The trouble is, no one could have sensibly thought it legitimate, nor sufficient to support their lavish style, which included amongst other things, a hire purchase deal for a Mercedes for which she was paying, and private school fees for their children.’

Andrew Chukwu, of Loughton, Essex, denied but was found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation and conspiracy to conceal criminal property.

Grace Chukwu, of the same address, denied but was found guilty of possessing criminal property.

Emmanuel Chukwuka, 26, and Christian Chukwuka, 38, of Basildon, Essex, both denied but were found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation and conspiracy to conceal criminal property.

Christian Chukwuka was found guilty of both charges.

Bonaventure Chukwuka, of Loughton, Essex, was found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation, conspiracy to conceal criminal property and possessing a mobile telephone in prison.

Queen Chukwuka, of the same address, denied but was found guilty of possessing criminal property.

All 10 of the gang members, originally from Nigeria, are facing prison after being found guilty of a series of fraud and possessing stolen property charges

Nadeem Abbasi, 48, of Wembley, north London, admitted conspiracy to conceal criminal property.

Mohammad Rahman, 31, of the same address, denied but was found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation and conspiracy to conceal criminal property.

Mansoor Zaman, 27, of Charlton, southeast London, denied but was found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation and conspiracy to conceal criminal property.

The convictions came in March after a trial lasting more than five months and costing the taxpayer millions of pounds.

Judge Michael Simon has said he will pass sentence on Thursday 2 May after hearing defence mitigation. The hearing continues.

 

Source:

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6971955/Grace-Chukwu-Queen-Chukwuka-10million-fraud-trial-Blackfriars-Crown-Court-allowed-skip-it.html

 

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