Ingenious Laminated Bank Notes Ruse Sees Gang Con UK Retail Sportsbooks Out of £663,556

  • The men fed laminated bank notes into betting machines and yanked them out with plastic leads
  • All four pleaded guilty and got prison sentences ranging from four years to nine months
  • While two got suspended sentences, all got banned for life from going into any UK sportsbook
  • A London Met DC said it pleased him that the two main culprits received custodial sentences
Ladbrokes betting shop
A gang using laminated bank notes has been found guilty of conning UK retail sportsbooks out of £663,556. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Conspiracy to commit fraud

A gang of four men have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud after they used laminated bank notes to con retail sportsbooks out of £663,556 ($886,484) by tricking their self-service machines.

The four entered their guilty pleas at Kingston-Upon-Thames Crown Court in London on November 22.

TV station London Live shared news of the prison sentences for the men via Twitter:

The fraudsters targeted Ladbrokes and Coral retail sportsbooks between July 2020 and June 2021, feeding in laminated £20 ($26.73) and £50 ($66.81) notes in order to register a deposit for a wager. After the deposit registered, they used a plastic lead to yank the doctored bank note out before the machine could swallow it.

Banned for life

Thomas Wheatcroft, 40, Charlie Shaw, 33, Michael Sadgove-Tarrant, 37, and Paul Hubbold, 59, hit the Ladbrokes-owned betting kiosks in London, Essex, Cambridgeshire, Merseyside, Surrey, West Midlands, and Yorkshire, committing 168 frauds.

the fraudsters all wearing identical clothing

According to the Liverpool Echo, Ladbrokes Coral staff contacted the police after noticing thousands of pounds were missing from the machines when they cashed them out. Surveillance footage from the various Ladbrokes and Coral betting shops revealed the fraudsters all wearing identical clothing. When police arrested the four men in Basildon, Essex, they discovered bags of clothing that included 20 baseball caps.

Wheatcroft was sentenced to four years and three months in prison and Shaw got two years. Sadgove-Tarrant got sentenced to one year, suspended for two years, and Hubbold was given nine months, suspended for 18 months. Apart from Hubbold, who hails from the Cumbrian town of Barrow-in-Furness, the other three men are all from the coastal city of Portsmouth.

In addition to their prison terms, the four got banned for life from entering any sportsbook in the UK.

Some relief

Detective Constable Kevin Parley of Greater London’s Metropolitan Police worked the case along with fellow officers and security officials from both Ladbrokes and Coral retail outlets. DC Parley said the joint investigation included “gathering evidence to bring forward a robust case against the four men.”

In 2016, Ladbrokes aquired Gala Coral and changed its corporate name to Ladbrokes Coral, although its retail betting shops are still separately named Ladbrokes and Coral. Ladbrokes Coral is owned by Entain, formerly GVC Holdings. In 2019, Ladbrokes Coral defended itself after a BBC Panorama episode featured stories of three people with gambling addictions who stole over £3m from clients to bankroll their gambling, which they mainly conducted with the brand.

“Substantial sums of money stolen by the group is a significant loss to the businesses these men had targeted,” Parley said. The Met DC added it pleased him that the two main culprits, Wheatcroft and Shaw, received custodial sentences.

In conclusion, Parley said “I hope this provides some relief for the companies who have been affected by their actions.”