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Men jailed for cons from Cornwall to Lancashire

Men jailed for cons from Cornwall to Lancashire

Published by Emma Carton at 7:56am 16th November 2019. (Updated at 8:33am 16th November 2019)

Fraudsters, who swindled vulnerable farmers out of their life savings from Cornwall to Lancashire, are waking up behind bars.

Three men have been jailed for a string of long-running cons in Launceston, Exeter and Preston.

A court was told the trio duped their victims into believing they were involved in criminal activity.

They have been sentenced to a total of more than 13 years in prison.

What are the details of the case?

Police say these men swindled vulnerable farmers out of their life savings in long-running cons, leaving them suffering in silence.

A court heard targeted men in rural communities and duped their victims into falsely believing they had become caught up in criminal activity.

Each of the victims lost hundreds of thousands of pounds in cash.

All three men were jailed at Exeter Crown Court on Friday 15th November, after an investigation by Devon and Cornwall Police.

Operation Mudskipper revealed that their crimes happened near Exeter, Launceston and Preston in Lancashire.

It came to light after the family of one of their victims contacted police over fears they were being blackmailed.

He eventually told his loved-ones of his long-running ordeal and from this point, police identified more victims.

Farming Fraud


57-year-old Dennis McGinley and 56-year-old John Maughan, both from Enniskillen in Northern Ireland, admitted two counts of conspiracy to commit fraud.

39-year-old Luke Connors from Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford, Ireland, pleaded guilty to four charges of conspiracy to commit fraud.

What did Devon and Cornwall Police say?

"The group acted in an organised and calculated manner to strip the victims of their savings. They struggled in secret for a number of years.

"The offenders identified vulnerable victims through door-to-door tool sales.

"From there, they set in play calculated, effective and long-running deceptions of the victims, causing them to hand over large amounts of cash.

"The victims lost hundreds of thousands of pounds each.  

"Following initial entrapment through tool sales, the victims found themselves entwined in fictitious situations where they believed their savings had become caught up in criminal activity.

"They were led to believe their cash was being used to import illegal cigarettes, drugs and to bribe HMRC officials - none of which was true.

"They were left feeling they could not report the situation without facing prosecution themselves and that they needed to hand over more and more funds if they wanted to see any of their ‘investments’ returned.

"As time progressed, so did the amounts they were made to hand over.

"In each case, the victim has been left with no life savings and, on occasions, have had to borrow money from friends and family".

"The victims were initially in denial that there had been any fraud - believing the stories they had been told for many years to be true.

"The offenders led the victims to believe that they were 'all in it together' and that they were suffering the same stresses".

Detective Constable Ailsa Mason

McGinley was sentenced to  five years and seven months, Maughan for five years and three months and Connors for three years.

You can read more about the case here.

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