Published: 16:18, 22 June 2021
| Updated: 16:36, 22 June 2021
A distinctive rose tattoo led to a Gillingham fraudster, who tricked people into handing over designer watches, phones and computers, being identified.
Amber Ward was jailed at Maidstone Crown Court today for her role in a conspiracy which involved stealing the identities of people to order high value items.
Between August 14 and September 19 last year, Ward and accomplice Rueben Thomas travelled to areas including Snodland and Ashford, targetting previous homes of people whose identities had been stolen.
They used the stolen identification to arrange for fraudulent orders to be delivered to a house, before Ward would visit the present occupiers and claim to be a relative or a girlfriend collecting parcels on behalf of former occupiers, adding that the items were being delivered to their old address by mistake.
Kent Police was initially alerted to suspicious activity on September 11 and an investigation identified a number of linked offences, including some outside of the county.
Inquiries led to the discovery of doorbell camera footage showing a female suspect with a tattoo of a rose on her hand.
Ward and Thomas were arrested on September 19, during an attempt to intercept a parcel in Lakeside, Snodland.
Another woman had been travelling in the car who looked similar to Ward and the tattoo images proved pivotal in proving her involvement.
A search of Thomas’ home in Broxburn Drive, South Ockenden, Essex was carried out which led to the discovery of a large quantity of fraudulently obtained items, including phones valued in excess of £25,000, designer watches and computers.
Documentation of stolen utility bills, bank cards and consignment notes were also recovered, which had been used to obtain fraudulent credit agreements and order the items.
Ward, aged 25, of Nelson Road, Gillingham pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation.
She was sentenced today to two years’ imprisonment - a year for the fraud offences and an additional 12 months for breaching a previous suspended sentence.
Thomas, aged 29, had previously admitted the same offence and was sentenced in October 2020, to two years and six months’ imprisonment.
Detective Constable Mark Newman of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate said: "Victims of this type of fraud often have no idea their identities have been stolen until they receive demands from debt collecting companies and bailiffs over non-payment of goods and contracts.
"Whilst we were able to positively identify four victims during this investigation, the true number is likely to be far higher. Criminals will use many different tactics to defraud innocent people and can be very persuasive, so if you are ever in doubt, don't answer the door and report the incident to police or Action Fraud straight away."