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Re: Fraud by Misrepresentation - Recieved caution - money seized & now personal property not being returned


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Hello Everyone,

 

I hope you dont mind me posting up for your advice, I have heard some wonderful things about the CAG forums.

 

Long story short, my partner was arrested two months ago for Fraud by misrepresentation for trying to pass off a dress in a high street retail store as being of a higher value (the reciept was manipulated to show the higher value). We have been suffered with immense debts for the last two years and she personally attempted suicide 4 months ago, so this was very much a moment of weakness. She has also been taking anti-depressants and at that time hadnt had any in her system for nearly 7 days due to us being away from home with family and being unable to get a repeat prescription.

 

We were quite far from home that day delivering something in person that we had sold on ebay (if was of high value, almost £1000) as we feared for the item being damaged during delivery. It was while shopping after dropping this item off that the issue occurred.

 

Having been arrested she was transfered to the local police station as the store wanted to take things further and myself and my 3 year old son were told to follow around afterwards to collect her once she had been interviewed as they knew this was a minor issue and would be dealt with that evening.

 

After I got some tea for my son, we travelled around to the police station, only to be told after nearly two hours of waiting that she would not be released that night as the sargent believed there was more to the arrest and wanted to search our home under section 18. The officer gave me my house keys which my wife had held and I also had to get money from her purse as she carried the money for us both as I have a tendency to loose it.

 

I got sent on my way after being told by the officer that by the time I got home, my local police force will more than likely have broken the front door of my house down to gain access for the search.

 

So I drove the 140 miles home at speed, praying that they would have some restraint and listen to my pleadings for the officers not to break the door down.

 

When I finally arrived home, it was quiet. My son and I spent the night on the sofas as I fully expected the door to be kicked in at any time.

 

In the morning I was told by the police solicitors that my wife hadnt been able to see any legal representation as when he tried to meet with her (which she requested on a phone call) he was turned away by the police officer in charge telling him he had a wasted journey due to new evidence being available. So having been held for 16 hours and overnight at that stage, my wife had been seen by a police medic, who said she was fit to be interviewed even though she had been without any anti-depresants for almost 8 days at this point (a point I raised with the officers at the time of her arrest and was assured she would get something given to her after 4 hours should she be held that long).

 

I had left home and began to drive back to the station. I got a distressed call from my wife who was crying telling me to go home as the police were outside and wanted to gain access.

 

What followed was almost 3 hours of my home being turned upside down by 3 officers. They were very respectful when they talked to us, but they werent so respectful to my home. As a result, much paperwork, reciepts for old items bought, our laptop and two old machines that hadnt been used in years were seized. I was told that I would be issued with a full list of everything taken in a short period of time. To this day we have never receieved that and to be honest, we are at quite a loss to what was taken as our house was so upside down.

 

My wife was eventually released that afternoon, almost 24 hours later. Her solictor told me that they were about to issue a caution then, but the other police force who completed the search had found a large amount of reciepts which would require investigation, so she was released on police bail, to sign on twice a week in our local station, and to return to them for further questioning nearly two months later.

 

She was also found to be carrying a large amount of money - over £1000. There was a legitimate reason for this as I stated earlier - we were hand delivering a valuable item which had been paid for by paypal. The buyer was within his rights to refuse the item, and so as not to get into a mess with paypal holding money, we brought the full value with us, in order to be able to give him a refund. I should say, my mother gave us money for our wedding anniversary (which was the next day) and for going off on holiday at the end of the month. This amounted to £800 of the money my wife had on her, and half of this was given to me - and we could prove it came from my mother because it was Northern Irish sterling - and we wouldnt have been able to get such a large quantity locally in the UK mainland. My mother is able to prove having this money as she gave us £300 from an amount she took from her credit union account back in June and the further £500 she withdrew from the credit union the week we headed home from a family visit (the week before this incident). We obviously had enough to pay this chap back (nearly £1000) and the rest for petrol, food and anything else we wanted to buy for each other for our anniversery the next day. My wife had just under £1050.00 seized, just over the £1000 limit I understand. Her mobile phone, reciepts she had on her, bank cards etc, were also seized. As I said earlier, my wife also carried money for me, so half of whatever she had was mine, although this was never taken into account. Although we can prove that the officer removed £40 from her bag to give to me as I had no money at all, hence his reasoning for handing this amount over to me.

 

When I collected my wife the next day, I had next to nothing left having paid for petrol and food and my wife was not allowed any money to take with her, or her bank cards. She pleaded with the officers that we would have no money until we went to the bank on Monday, but they didnt listen. My feeling now is that had they gave her anything of consequence it would have brought the money they had seized below the £1000 limit and it would have been harder to justify keeping it.

 

What followed was some of the toughest days of our lives and I can assure you we have been through some tough times together. Our of the 14 trips to sign bail, 4 times was the station open to do this and we had to have the bail time varied due to the 2 hours time slot she was given conflicting with the 1 hour lunch the staff took whenever they were on duty. On several occasions the police headquarters at the end of the phoneline outside the closed station told my wife to come back later that day - she cant drive and its not a few minutes walk from our home, so very unreasonable.

 

The police moved fast to seize the money formally - we had a knock to our door at home the start of the following week (after 5pm) and a police officer handed us a one page photocopy of a notice to seize our money, which would be taking place the following lunchtime at the place of arrest, some 140 miles away. I asked this local officer if we could attend this appointment and he said there was no point as the financial investiagtion unit intended to hold the money pending the outcome of the criminal investigation. With no reason to doubt him, he went on his way and we accepted what he said as he was a pleasant guy.

 

The next day we had a letter dated the day before from the financial investigation unit - although this was 6 pages long! when we read through it, it invited us to challenge the court order being sought for holding the money, although it was taking place at 2pm that very day! At this stage we recieved the letter at 12 noon, so would never have made the journey on time. When we looked back at what the officer gave us the night before, the corner showed (page 2 of 6) although he only brought one page...When we asked our solicitor about what happened and he spoke with the financial investigation unit, they reiterated that they would not be releasing the money until the completion of the criminal investigation and they were confident the court would allow them to keep the money for 6 months minimum.

 

Without any conflict from us, they got the court order.

 

Two weeks ago, we were finally given the amazing news by our solicitor that they case was to be dropped, with my wife recieving the caution she should have had the day after her arrest. Last week we travelled to the police station and this was duely completed.

 

The officer in charge tried to get her seized possessions back (mobile phone cards, etc that she had on her person) but was told they were with the financial investigation unit now and would not be returned until after the civil interview.

 

Not happy, but ok, everything is over now. We can prove were most of the money she had on her came from and the rest (around £200 which was money we had in our possession for living, bills etc) wouldnt have been enough to be held under the proceeds of crime act.

 

A day later, we find out that the other property seized from our home, is still in our local police station. I speak with the financial investigation unit and they are only interested in the money which can be dealt with at the civil interview - the rest can be returned. We then speak with the local property officer who tells us the caution paperwork isnt enough and he would need the system to show the other police force have no interest in the goods or a phone call from the same. We then speak with a desk sargent at the other police force who agrees to take a call from this chap and says that he has no problems with the stuff being returned.

 

We again speak with the local property officer who tells us he has a more pending case to deal with and could we wait until Monday for the goods to be returned - in great distress, my wife pleads with him, but this seems to **** him off rather than appeal to his better nature and he states he will make a few calls and see what he can do.

 

an hour later we travel to our local station to speak with him face to face and he has gone home. We get told there is no-one there to deal with us (surprise-surprise) but to come back at the shift change later that evening and someone will deal with us. We come back and get told by a Community police officer that no-one is there, the shift change took place an hour before the time we were given and could we maybe come back later that night 9pm. As it was goods from us both, we would have to both come back, with our little boy in tow.

 

We get back home to find an answer message from the propert officer - telling us that between him, the officer in charge of the criminal case (now finished with) and the financial investigation unit, they have decided that they will hold onto everything until such times as the civil investigation is over.

 

I speak then with this officer who was in charge of the case, who informs me that the financial investigation unit feel that the personal items from our home might give their civil case more value and they wouldnt be happy releasing anything until such times as the civil case was over as the computers etc might have some evidence helping to substantiate where the money has come from. (there was more to this, but this is pretty much the jist of what he was saying).

 

Now my wife faces a 2 hour interview next week, talking about our lifestyle, money, our back ground etc, etc, all over £1050 and we can prove why we had it (sale page on ebay, paypal payment, even feedback being left on the same date as arrest by the buyer) and also where the bulk of it came from (my mother, in non-Bank of England notes).

 

We have been told that we can challenge the money by going to the magistrate ourselves with evidence, but can they continue to hold onto our personal posessions like this? We still havent even got a clue as to everything that they seized as they never provided a list to us even though it was requested.

 

Has anybody any advice as to how to pursue this please? My wife is suffering with mental issues, as am I, we both are on anti-depresants of various orders and my wife is getting conselling from the local mental health office. Surely she shouldnt have to deal with this all when she has already been given a caution and we can prove where this money comes from?

 

I have said to her she should take the evidence into the civil interview and present it there and then, but she fears they will try and gloss over it and lead her down a path of questioning in order to do what they can to hold onto the money and we cannot afford to loose it.

 

All advice is appreciated and thank you for taking the time to read such a long winded post.

 

shoeboxes xx

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Hello and welcome from me too. I hope you will get some help soon. It's half term though and some of the guys could be busy or away.

 

I just wanted to say what a terrible story. My heart goes out to you, your wife and little boy and I hope you get this sorted soon and with a just outcome.

 

My best, HB

Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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Hello again. All I can do to help, I'm afraid, is to bump [bring Up My Post] your posts to keep them at the top of the list. As I said, it looks like a quiet week to me, but I'm sure someone will be along so please bear with us. I'll PM someone who may know and ask them to have a look if they can.

 

My best, HB:bump:

Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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Hi

 

Sorry to hear this, however from what you describe I feel the police have been reasonable in their actions. Your partner was guilty of an act of Fraud and the other facts tend to support that shoplifting and selling on eBay is a means of converting the property to money.

 

THe caution does seem to suggest that your partner has little or no previous criminal history. That does not mean that you don't though and it is reasonable to think that criminals use "innocent" people to hide their own criminality. Do you have such a history? I feel it is relevant as the standard of proof is lower for the confiscation as opposed to a criminal conviction standard.

 

Have a look at the CPS guidelines here.... http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/h_to_k/investigative_powers_and_cash_siezure/ Note these bits

 

 

"A magistrate may make such an order if satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for the officer's suspicion and that the continued detention is justified for the purposes of investigating its origin or intended use."

 

and

 

"The magistrates' court may release the cash in response to an application by the person from whom the cash was seized on the grounds that it is not recoverable property and is not intended for use in unlawful conduct."

 

From the story you give does tend to suppose that the origin of the money and the intended use of the other property eg computers could prove that unlawful activity may be occuring.

 

You need to tell your story to the magistrates and to prove that you are an honest life and that these facts are just an unfortunate set of circumstances and not intentional. Try and get letters or statements from all concerned and prove what you are saying.

 

Hope that helps

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papasmurf,

 

i have no criminal history, and this was a first incident for my wife.

 

as for shoplifting and selling on ebay - can i ask how would selling a set of 20" alloy wheels on ebay suggest a history of shoplifting and selling on ebay for cash? have you tried lifting a single 20" alloy, never mind a whole set? its not like you can hide that under even the biggest jumper....

 

mighty mouse - the solicitor was turned away by the police on the basis that the interview wasn't going to take place therefore they didn't need him - however my wife was not told this and just left in her cell wondering what was going on.

 

its all a bit much as we've been led to believe all along that once the criminal investigations were complete, and the police have assured the solicitor they are finished their investigations, that the seized items would be returned, obviously not the money until the finacial investigation is complete.

 

it seems that the law can state one thing but the police can go ahead and circumvent this however they please and it is so frustrating to get told on 3 separate occassions that the items are available to be collected only to be refused access to them!!!

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Hi Shoeboxes

 

I didn't intend to offend you and your wife. What you have said all goes in your favour. All I was trying to do was show you how this series of events could be seen from a police perspective. You have come up with a persuasive explanation (the truth is persuasive) so hopefully the magistrate will see it too.

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