London Underground gang ran multi-million ticket scam and splashed out on cars and designer clothes – Kent Live
The leaders of an organised gang that ran a multi-million pound train ticket scam on the London Underground have now been jailed.
The scheme unravelled when ticket inspectors started spotting fake train tickets back in October 2017
The culprits worked on ticket barriers, and covered weekly and monthly rail travel between zones one and six.
The gang sold them for around half the price of regular tickets. All in all it is estimated the scam cost operators around £8 million while it ran between 2016 and 2019, our sister site MyLondon reports.
One of the ringleaders was Manuel Da Costa Silva.
He became a prime suspect at an early stage in the investigation as he was the distributer and part of an organised crime group which produced and sold the tickets in London.
Manuel Da-Costa Silva
The scam was described as a pyramid scheme.
Silva would receive mass quantities of fake tickets and pass them onto lower level distributors, who would either sell them to customers or sell them in bulk to even lower level distributors.
The 29-year-old made a huge profit from the scam. Prosecutors noted his love of designer label clothes and his expensive cars, a Porsche Panamera and a BMW I8.
Two brothers, Stefan and Sorin Covrig, and a third man, Ciprian Buda, were the manufacturers of the tickets.
They used blank tickets, card readers, computer programs and printers to produce fake tickets on a massive scale.
When officers raided their homes, almost 60,000 blank tickets were found. If they were turned into the fake train tickets, they would have made the gang around £20 million.
The police spent months investigating this gang, raiding London and Leicester homes before arresting Silva, Sorin Covrig and Buda.
Nine more people were identified and arrested for working with the group.
The 13 members appeared for sentencing at Inner London Crown Court on Friday February 14. All members were charged with fraud. and the four ringleaders were jailed for a total of 24 years.
DC Nick Barr from the British Transport Police, said: “The actions of this gang pulled money that could’ve been used to fund security, trains and other rail services across London.
The blank tickets seized by the police would have fetched around £20 million if the gang had used them.
The tickets seized by officers
(Image: British Transpory)
“They all made a profit, with the ring leaders earning hundreds of thousands of pounds. This money isn’t theirs to keep and we are using the law to strip them of their assets.
We’ve already seized £300,000 worth of homes bought by Stefan Covrig in Romania and taken Silva’s cars.”
Siwan Hayward, director of compliance and policing at TfL, said: “Organised fraud like this is rare and we have robust controls in place to identify and stop illegal activity.
“Our team of 450 revenue inspectors operates across our network day and night and includes a specialist counterfeit ticket team who detected these fake National Rail tickets circulating on our network.
“This scam defrauded the public of millions of pounds that should have been invested in the transport network. We have a zero tolerance approach to any fraud on our network and welcome the news that these criminals have been brought to justice.”
The gang members
Stefan Covrig, 35, of Billet Road in Chadwell Heath, London, was jailed for seven years and six months
Sorin Covrig, 23, of Billet Road, Chadwell Heath, London, was jailed for four years and six months.
Ciprian Buda, 42, of Billet Road, Chadwell Heath, London, was jailed for four years and six months.
Manuel Da Costa Silva, 29, of Long Bridge Road, Barking, London was jailed for seven years and six months. He was also sentenced for money laundering.
Ciprian Dumitru-Stefan, 39, of Prince Regent Lane in West Bekton, London, was jailed for 11 months. He was also sentenced for money laundering.
Yusuf Bello, 27, of Prince Regent Lane in West Beckton, London, was jailed for 15 months.
Rodney Capemba, 27, of Great Eastern Road, Stratford, London, was jailed for 18 months.
Mamadu Conte, 31, of Verdant Lane, Lewisham, London was jailed for 15 months.
A member of the group who can’t be named for legal reasons was jailed for 15 months.
Adrian Morarescu, 49, of Dunkeld Road, Dagenham, London, was given a 14-month suspended sentence.
Joao Pedro Martins Garcia, 33, of Eade Road, Tottenham, London was given a 150-hour community order.
Dong Nguyen, 33, of Wick Road, Hackney, London, received 120 hours of unpaid work.
Joanna Li, 26, of Meredith Street, Plaistow, London, received an 11-month suspended sentence and 100 hours of unpaid work.