A UK fraudster who posed as a travel agent and scammed $130,000 from customers has been jailed after he was caught trying to flee the country. But his downfall began when he called detectives investigating his actions and threatened them.
The 52-year-old Londoner was handed a two-year sentence at Isleworth Crown Court after pleading guilty to various fraud and money laundering offences.
Jonathan Richman carried out a number of frauds between 2011 and 2015, in which he posed as a travel agent dealing in last-minute holidays at low prices for his customers. But he was actually paying for the holidays using fraudulent credit-card details, and pocketing the customer's money.
Detective Sergeant Dave Bullamore, from the Metropolitan Police's Aviation Policing Command, described the scenario:
“Richman was carrying out these frauds effectively as a full-time occupation. He went to great lengths to try and conceal his true identity, right from renting a flat under a false name to setting up fake bank accounts.”
The investigation was launched back in 2013, when two people returning from a holiday in Thailand, were arrested by officers at LHR. They were suspected of purchasing their holiday using fraudulent credit card details, but it quickly became apparent they were victims of a scam.
Officers spent over a year trying to track down Richman, before, in October 2014, he phoned Heathrow CID office and made threats against one of the investigating officers and his family telling him to “leave [him] alone.”
Detectives were able to trace the mobile phone numbers used to make the calls, and were then able to link the numbers to Richman.
“After some fantastic detective work, we were finally able to match his face to his true identity and arrest him, and despite his attempts to go on the run and evade justice, he is now facing further time behind bars.”
A warrant for his arrest was circulated and Richman was arrested at LGW, attempting to board a flight to Morocco.