doc

A NEWPORT man, who fraudulently gained almost a quarter of million pounds, has been sentenced to 30 months after spending almost all of it at an "astonishing burn rate" on a luxury spending spree.

Dewi Smith, 26, of Hoskins street Newport appeared at Cardiff Crown court on Thursday, after pleading guilty to two counts of dishonestly making false representation to make gains for himself.

The court heard how both offences were committed in a similar way and with the help of an accomplice who Gwent Police are still looking for.

The first fraud was against the De Vere Hotel Group in March 2012. A person responsible for making payments was contacted by someone asking that the usual payment of £98,000 be made to a new account. Satisfied by the email address with a domain bought by Smith, the payment was made.

Prosecutor John Probert said: “It is now known to have been made into a bank account which was registered to Dewi Smith.”

The second fraud was against Tata Global Beverages where through similar means, £150,000 was paid another of Smith's accounts.

On February 18, 2013, Smith was arrested. In interview he said he only became aware of what was going on when there was a lot of money in his account. He was released on police bail, but on September 10, 2013 he was arrested again and questioned about the Tata offence.

The court heard how after the De Vere payment, Smith’s bank balance dropped from £98,000 to £18,000 in two weeks – by which point his account was restrained.

Transactions details read by the prosecution from Smith's other account- used for the Tata fraud- showed £12,000 spent at a jewellery shop, £3,000 in an Apple store, more than £70,000 spent on two Land rovers, almost £3,000 in a Gucci shop, £5,000 transferred to Smith's girlfriend and £13,000 spent in a Cardiff casino.

The full £150,000 was all spent in around 10 days. Judge Crowther called this an "astonishing burn rate".

The prosecution maintained Smith was the major beneficiary of the total £248,000.

The court heard how Smith had 11 previous convictions including a false representation case in August 2010 which concerned credit card fraud.

A sum of £69,000 in Smith’s account has been restrained by Gwent police and a confiscation order under the Proceeds of Crime Act has been applied for.

Defending, James Tucker, said:"This is related to his past. It is difficult to imagine such a fraud can be created by just two people. The defendant on his own is the only one standing in the dock who will receive a custodial sentence.

"The profit he made on this fraud is reflected in the price he will pay today.”

Judge Crowther said the degree of planning, sophistication and the fact he did it out of sheer greed for a lifestyle he was unprepared to work for, were all aggravating features. He said the fact the two companies were not vulnerable victims was not mitigation.

Judge Crowther said: "You used the money to live life high. You were the major beneficiary it seems, of the cash that came into your account.”

Smith was sentenced to 30 months for each count, to be served concurrently - half in prison and half on license.