Five bailed in �6m internet fraud probe
FIVE men are on police bail following a series of raids led by Suffolk trading standards officers investigating an alleged �6million internet fraud.
Seven people from various locations across the country were interviewed following the early-morning swoops.
These followed a lengthy inquiry into alleged scams said to involve a large number of websites offering work as escorts for which people were persuaded to pay out registration fees of between �219 and �350.
Two of those interviewed, a woman from Claydon and a man from Redgrave near Bury St Edmunds, have been released by officers.
However, the remainder including a man with connections to Westerfield, near Ipswich, are currently on bail until May pending further inquiries into the alleged deceptions which are believed to have conned more than 15,000 victims.
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The remaining four suspects currently on bail are from Altrincham near Manchester, Devon, Wakefield and Nottingham.
As well as escort websites operating under names such as Adorabelles, Candy Escorts, European Escorts, Date Angels, Diamond Companions and Delightful Stars, the same fraudsters are said to have also run a debt elimination scam.
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Conmen are alleged to have duped people into believing they can get out of paying back their loans and debts through loopholes. However, they first need to pay fees of �400-�500 upfront.
The inquiry, which has been going on for more than a year, is understood to centre on well in excess of 100 internet businesses.
Trading standards officers, police and financial investigators targeted addresses in Claydon, Westerfield, Lowestoft and Redgrave, near Bury St Edmunds, on November 3.
Six other locations in Buckinghamshire, West Sussex, Devon, Cheshire, and Wakefield were also raided.
A total of around 60 officers were involved in the operation, codenamed Troy.
All those arrested were detained on suspicion of money laundering offences.
Reg Ruffles, Suffolk's assistant county trading standards officer, said: 'We want anyone who feels they may have been a victim of these businesses to contact us through either the Suffolk County Council website or Suffolk Trading Standards on Facebook where there will be a link to where they can make a complaint.'