THE FACE-ACHE FRAUDSTER

A master fraudster pulled a series of faces in passport pictures to create new identities.

Anthony Bridger, 51, was at the helm of a £7 million scam with a villa in the Cayman Islands and an apartment in Monte Carlo.

When his offices were raided detectives discovered 201 passport photographs in which he pulled difference expressions to go with his many bogus identities.

Southwark Crown Court heard how fraudsters first opened bank accounts to pay in large sums of cash using birth certificates, passports and driving licenses.

The crooks would then apply for an overdraft and within weeks the account would be bled dry and the bogus identity would disappear.

Prosecutor David Levy said: ‘This methodology was applied and there was a continuous stream of criminality, it was ongoing.’

He said the fraud was carried out as a ‘businesslike venture’ between 2003 and 2010.

Matters came to light when banks such as Lloyds TSB, Nat West, Barclays and HSBC realised they were losing vast amounts of money and contacted the police.

After a 14-month investigation salesman Bridger and property developer David Tunnicliffe, 38, were identified as the masterminds, making more than £2million each.

Judge Anthony Pitts is due to sentence them alongside builders Richard Andrews, 41 and Adrian Dubery, 48, kitchen fitter Jonathan Ainsworth, 44, David Barclay, 41, Paul Bridger, 60, and Megan Smith, 47.

Mr Levy said Tunnicliffe, who owns a villa in Spain, had not paid any tax for six years, despite boasting an impressive property portfolio.

When his home in west London was searched police officers found documents relating to at least 32 bogus identities.

At a small office, which he operated as front for the fraud, four bogus passports and 26 driving licenses all bearing his photograph as well as 26 birth certificates.

Mr Levy said numerous ‘deed poll documents’ were also recovered.

Tunnicliffe was watched withdrawing hundreds of pounds a time over two consecutive days and was
arrested soon afterwards.

At Anthony Bridger’s office, police found a number of mobile phones all adorned with post it notes giving the bogus names that the number belonged to.

He also kept one cheque from each bank account so he had a template of the bogus signature he had used.

‘Also found were some 201 passport photographs, all bearing his face with different expressions suggesting he was preparing for another identity,’ Mr Levy said.

Bridger, who also paid no tax for at least six years, owns a house in Fulham, an apartment in Monte Carlo, and villas in the Cayman Islands and Majorca.

Andrews, who was a lieutenant in the con, stuffed folders in the oven so officers would not discover the bogus identity documents in his possession.

He earned himself at least £1.2million from the fraud.

The remaining defendants were much less involved but all had a number of false identities in which they opened accounts.

Ainsworth, of (9) Ince Road, Walton-on-Thames, Surrey; Andrews, of (Castle Court, 9) Brew House Lanes, Putney, South West London; Bridger, of (33) Thames Point, Imperial Wharf, Fulham, South West London; Smith, of (2) Kingsley Close, Worthing, Sussex; Dubery, of (Chambers Court Colbran Farm), Cow Lane, Laughton, Lewes, Sussex; Tunnicliffe, of (18) Imperial Wharf, Fulham; Barclay, of (27) Sussex Square, Brighton and Paul Bridger, of (Chates Farm Court, 25) St John’s Street, Brighton, all admitted conspiracy to defraud between April 1, 2003 and June 7, 2010.

Ainsworth, Anthony Bridger, Dubery, Smith and Andrews have admitted individual charges of concealing and transferring criminal property, or money laundering, while Barclay has admitted an additional count of possessing a false identity document with intent.

Bridger who made £1.5 million, was jailed for four years and eight months after he admitted masterminding the fraud.

David Tunnicliffe, 38, and Richard Andrews, 41, who also pulled different expressions in passport photos to create fake identities were jailed for five years and four years respectively.

Jonathan Ainsworth, 44 and Adrian Dubery, 48, were locked up for 37 months apiece; David Barclay, 41, for two and a half years and Megan Smith, 47, for 13 months, while Paul Bridger, 60, received a 10 month prison term suspended for 12 months with 60 hours of unpaid work, after they all admitted taking part in the scam.

Passing sentence Judge Anthony Pitts said: ‘This was in my view a complex and serious fraud, conceived and run as a professional business operation over a period of a number of years.

‘It is quite clear to me that great attention was paid to detail in the course of this fraud.

‘It required careful management, consideration and effort to make it work.’

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