May 20 2013 Latest news:
Wednesday, January 9, 2013
A gang was so successful at committing frauds against Christie’s in London that it turned its attention to a New York sale held by the auction house, a court heard today.
Isleworth Crown Court was told that auctioneers across the country were targeted by fraudsters who used false identities to register as telephone bidders and stolen credit card details to obtain watches and expensive jewellery.
Simohamed Rahmoun, 31, of Stile Hall Mansions, Wellesley Road, Chiswick, and Farouk Dougui, 40, of Charlton Park Road, south-east London, are accused of contacting auction houses to register as telephone bidders using false identities.
Jabey Bathurst, 24, of Brook Close, Ruislip, Middlesex, collected the items they successfully bid for, giving a false name, it has been alleged by the prosecution, which also also Bathurst was sometimes accompanied by Dougui.
The court was told that another defendant, 61-year-old Barbara Goossens of Dudley Court, Upper Berkeley Street, central London, ran a jewellery shop and had an “extensive knowledge” of fine jewellery and expensive watches and the expertise to spot good items and what would sell.
In one of the frauds, two diamond rings, a diamond chain, and a tank watch worth £53,690, were successfully bid for at a Christie’s sale in London on June 9, 2010 using the false name Philip Smith, the court was told.
Payments were made over the phone the next day using details from seven different credit cards, the court heard.
Robin Shellard, prosecuting, said the theft was one of a “whole series” of frauds committed against Christie’s in London as part of the scam.
He said: “No doubt the fraudster could not believe his luck, so he pressed his luck a little bit further, why not New York? So that is what happened.
“On July 7, he requested that he be allowed to use two credit cards at the Christie’s New York sale.”
On July 9, “Mr Smith” made a successful payment using credit card details for 21,000 US dollars (£13,100) for watches bought at the New York sale and arrangements were made to have the goods transported to Stansted in the UK, he said.
On July 14, “Mr Smith” made bids for six lots worth £54,984 at a Christie’s jewellery sale in Kensington, London, Mr Shellard told the court.
Mr Shellard said: “He (Philip Smith) made an attempt to pay and was unsuccessful because the cards were declined.
“Fortunately for Christie’s on that day the credit card company informed them that one of the previous payments was fraudulent.
“Over the next three days it became clear that a number of Mr Smith’s credit cards had details which had been fraudulently used.”
The court heard the fraudsters targeted auctions across the country including Northumbria, Shrewsbury, Birmingham, Derby and Corsham, Wiltshire.
“As you can see no part of the country is safe where there is an auctioneers in the area,” Mr Shellard told the jury.
Rahmoun, Goossens, Dougui and Bathurst deny conspiring to defraud auctions houses and jewellery shops between April 30 and November 5, 2010.
Dougui, Rahmoun and Bathurst further deny a charge of conspiracy to defraud car part suppliers and other shops between the same dates.
Rahmoun also denies three charges relating to the alleged fraudulent use of credit cards to buy a motorbike, motorbike insurance and a BMW car in May 2011.