Four people at the centre of a multi-million pound Bitcoin cryptocurrency fraud have been jailed.
They were involved in a conspiracy to dishonestly obtain currency worth £21 million between October 2017 and January 2018.
Three men and one woman, aged 24-54, were convicted of fraud and transferring criminal property at Preston Crown Court.
They have been jailed for a total of 15 years.
The group worked with ringleader James Parker, who died in 2021 before he could be prosecuted for masterminding the conspiracy from his Blackpool home.
The court heard he exploited a loophole to withdraw dishonestly-obtained crypto assets worth £15 million from his trading account on an Australian-based cryptocurrency exchange.
Parker’s associates Kelly Caton and Jordan Robinson dishonestly withdrew £2.7 million and £1.7 million respectively from their accounts.
Parker’s financial adviser Stephen Boys worked with a UK national based in the United Arab Emirates to convert the cryptocurrency into cash.
The money was then laundered through various foreign-based online accounts.
A Crown Prosecution Service spokesman said: “A very significant amount of the laundered assets have been returned or are in the process of being recovered on the behalf of the Australian cryptocurrency exchange.”
Prosecutor Jonathan Kelleher added: “These offenders used the internet from the comfort of their own homes to obtain tens of millions of pounds worth of Bitcoin which did not belong to them.”
Stephen Boys, 59, from Accrington, was found guilty of converting and transferring criminal property and jailed for six years
Kelly Caton, 45, from Blackpool, was convicted of fraud, converting and acquiring criminal property and jailed for four-and-a-half years
Jordan Robinson, 24, from Fleetwood, was found guilty of fraud, converting and acquiring criminal property and also jailed for four-and-a-half years
James Austin-Beddoes, 28, from St Annes, found guilty of fraud and acquiring criminal property. He pleaded guilty to converting criminal property earlier and was jailed for 18 months, suspended for a year