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A complex, six-week trial at Isleworth Crown Court in West London saw Farouk Dougui, 39, from London, and Jabey Alan Bathurst, 23, from Middlesex, convicted on February 15 of conspiracy to defraud between May and November 2010.

Simohamed Rahmoun, 30, pleaded guilty to his part in the conspiracy during the trial and was remanded in custody.

The three offenders worked together in their plan to defraud by using foreign-based fake credit cards to pay for valuable jewellery at numerous auction houses. They also purchased electrical goods and car parts from other businesses. Forty-three firms across the UK were targeted in total, to a value estimated at over £800,000.

Senior investigating officer Det Con Amanda Carver said: "By the time the victims became aware the cards were fake, the offenders had collected the items which were worth many thousands of pounds.

"My investigation highlighted victim after victim and the true extent of their fraudulent activity only became clear when I collated all the similar offences from across the country and abroad."

The fraud involved a series of false identities, passports and utility bills, and addresses used such as a house up for sale to create those details.

DC Carver, based in Wiltshire, has now retired from the police but made sure the case was completed after she had become the main co-ordinator for forces across the country.

The investigation involved Wiltshire Police with West Mercia, Essex Police and the Metropolitan Police.

DC Carver said several auction houses had played important parts in helping the investigation, such as Toovey's in Washington, West Sussex, and thanked ATG for articles it ran highlighting the risks and appealing for information.

She added that the offenders used their criminal activities to fund a lifestyle that was way beyond their legitimate means. Rahmoun was claiming benefit at the time of these offences but had very high-value cars at his disposal in Morocco and Spain (Bentley convertible, Audis and Mini Coopers). The group showed no remorse for the distress and financial difficulties they caused their victims.

Dougui and Bathurst were remanded into custody and were due to appear at Isleworth Crown Court with Rahmoun for sentencing on March 14.

Barbara Ursula Goossens, 60, from London, was found not guilty of conspiracy to defraud.