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- He was mastermind of a gang that stole around £10million in total
- Accomplice Jonathan Ainsworth will have to pay back more the £33,000
By Claire Ellicott
PUBLISHED: 07:10 EST, 26 February 2013 | UPDATED: 20:24 EST, 26 February 2013
Brilliant disguises they certainly weren’t.
But these laughable faces pulled by a gang of fraudsters helped them con banks out of up to £10million.
The mugshots were used to create dozens of fake passports and driving licences which enabled the men to open accounts in false names. Once they’d successfully applied for loans and overdrafts, they simply pocketed the cash and disappeared.
Master of disguise: Fraudster Anthony Bridger pulled a variety of bizarre faces in passport photos in a bid to defraud banks of around £1.5million
Payback: Bridger has been ordered to repay £1.28million within six months or face six more years in jail
In one picture, gang leader Anthony Bridger, 53, who owned a villa in the Cayman Islands and an apartment in Monto Carlo, tried to change his appearance simply by blowing out his cheeks.
More than 200 images of Bridger trying out different expressions were unearthed when police raided his offices. At the offices of another gang leader, David Tunnicliffe, 38, officers found four bogus passports and 26 driving licences all bearing his photograph.
They also recovered 26 birth certificates and numerous ‘deed poll documents’.
The group were given varying jail terms for their part in the scam but this week Bridger was the subject of a hearing at Southwark Crown Court to recover some of the £1.5million cash he raked in.
He was jailed for four years and eight months in 2011 for masterminding the con but was ordered to pay back £1,280,000 within six months or face an additional six years.
The court heard the gang ran the bank accounts as if they were owned by real people, making transactions and paying in what looked like high salaries in order to build up good credit ratings.
But they would then apply for an overdraft or loan and bleed the accounts dry, before moving on to other victims.
Jailed: David Tunnicliffe was jailed for five years for his part in the scam from which he is thought to have made £2million
Prosecutor David Levy said: ‘This methodology was applied and there was a continuous stream of criminality, it was ongoing.’
He said the fraud was carried out as a ‘businesslike venture’ between 2003 and 2010.
The fraud came to light when banks including Lloyds TSB, Nat West, Barclays and HSBC realised they were losing huge sums of money and contacted the police.
Tunnicliffe and Bridger, both of South-West London, were identified as the masterminds after a 14-month investigation.
Tunnicliffe owned a property portfolio including a villa in Spain and a house in Fulham, but had not paid any tax for six years. He made around £2million from the fraud.
Different faces: Tunnicliffe styled his hair differently and wore different glasses in a bid to fool the banks
At Bridger’s office, police found a number of mobile phones all adorned with sticky notes giving the bogus names that the number belonged to.
He also kept one cheque from each bank account so he had a template of the bogus signature he had used.
Richard Andrews, 41, who was a lieutenant in the con, stuffed folders in the oven so officers would not discover the bogus identity documents in his possession. He earned at least £1.2million from the fraud.
Gurning: Senior gang member Richard Andrews raked in £1.2million
Fellow fraudster Jonathan Ainsworth, 46, who was jailed for 37 months, has been ordered to pay back a total of £33,498, including more than £18,000 in compensation to RBS and HSBC.
A confiscation hearing in respect of co-defendant Adrian Dubery, who was also jailed for 37 months, was adjourned and will take place at a later date to be fixed.
David Barclay, 41, was jailed for two and a half years and Megan Smith, 47, for 13 months, while Paul Bridger, 60, received a ten-month prison term suspended for 12 months with 60 hours of unpaid work, after they all admitted taking part in the scam.
Anthony Bridger boasted an impressive portfolio of property including a villa in the Cayman Islands (file picture)