The Thames Valley Police chief constable has commended a financial investigator for securing monetary repayments for theft and fraud victims.

Chief Constable Jason Hogg presented Barry Winslade with a commendation at a ceremony at Thames Valley Police’s training centre in Sulhamstead on November 28.

Alongside his work to support victims whose money had been gambled away, Mr Winslade, of the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit’s Asset Recovery Team, secured more than £250,000 from betting companies by persuading them to pay back divestment payments.

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“The most satisfying part of this role for me is always in the recovery and return of property and money to vulnerable victims of crime, and for that to be recognised in this way is especially rewarding,” he said.

In two separate cases, fraudsters stole money from vulnerable family members or close friends and associates and gambled it away, mainly online.

One was a case in which the offender had approached numerous family members, friends and associates requesting money to secure directorship and investment opportunities.

Officers eventually identified 15 victims and the total loss over six years was in excess of £982,000, although some of the money was repaid.

The fraudster, who was married and had three children, was in financial difficulty and had a gambling addiction.

They had spent more than £931,000 with 12 different companies, with a net loss in the region of £671,000, which Mr Winslade highlighted to the Gambling Commission. The offender was eventually sentenced to six years’ imprisonment.

The other case involved a married couple who defrauded the wife’s father, who was in a care home, of more than £143,000, the majority of which they gambled away.

The defendants gambled more than £201,000 with 10 different companies, with a net loss in the region of £114,611.

Both received suspended prison sentences and were told to complete unpaid work.

Police discovered the fraud after the father’s care home fees started going unpaid, despite him selling his home to cover them long-term. The victim died before he got any money back but was aware police had secured some of it.

Although standard confiscation orders were granted or were being sought, the thieves in each case have little or no available assets to fully compensate the victims through the normal process.

However, Barry convinced the Gambling Commission and betting firms, including Bet365, William Hill, Cassava/888, Star Sports and Space Casino, that they had potentially failed in their due diligence and allowed the gambling to continue without being monitored or checked.

Barry, who has been a financial investigator with Thames Valley Police since 2009, invited the gambling sites to review their working practices and consider making divestment payments back to the victims.

Barry also identified other opportunities outside of normal asset recovery work to secure positive outcomes for the vulnerable victims and engaging with them and their families to manage their expectations.


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This story was written by Matthew Norman, he joined the team in 2022 as a Facebook community reporter.

Matthew covers Bicester and focuses on finding stories from diverse communities.

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