Hyndburn’s finance ace is guilty of £21m bitcoin scam role

An East Lancs FINANCIAL adviser is facing jail time after being found guilty of helping to launder the proceeds of a £21m cryptocurrency racket.

Money expert Stephen William Boys, 58, was in the dock alongside four others, accused of using Australian currency exchange Coinspot for the scam.

Prosecutors say the Bitcoin fiddling was orchestrated by the late James Parker of Blackpool, who exploited a loophole in the platform to dishonestly withdraw £15m. Two accomplices also similarly secured £2.7m and £1.7m Boys, who once ran his own financial planning firm in Accrington, worked with a Dubai-based adviser to convert the cryptocurrency in cash, according to investigators.

And that loot was then laundered through a variety of foreign online accounts for fraudsters to take advantage of.

Jurors at Preston Crown Court have now convicted Boys, of Winster Close, Clayton-le-Moors, of two counts of converting and transferring criminal property.

His co-defendant Kelly Caton, 44, from Blackpool, Jordan Kane Robinson, 23, from Fleetwood, and James Austin-Beddoes, 27, also from Blackpool, were convicted of fraud and money laundering. He admitted to being charged with money laundering earlier in the proceedings. All five will be sentenced on September 9.

Parker, who orchestrated the scam between October 2017 and January 2018, died in January 2021 but investigators still obtained a £1million civil recovery order against his estate.

Boys was behind Total Financial Planning Services, which closed in September 2019. It had only been established in April 2018 and James Parker was another director.

Detectives claim that a “very significant amount” of the laundered money has now been returned or is in the process of being recovered on behalf of the Australian cryptocurrency exchange.

Jonathan Kelleher of the Crown Prosecution Service later said: “These offenders used the internet from the comfort of their homes to obtain tens of millions of pounds worth of bitcoin that did not belong to them. Cybercrime presents a growing threat to international economic stability, as well as honest individual investors in cryptocurrency.

“Careful analysis of vast amounts of digital material and collaborative liaison with authorities in Australia and Finland enabled us to mount a successful prosecution of these criminals.”

Detective Sergeant David Wainwright, Lancashire Police, added: ‘This was a complex case in which these offenders have now been brought to justice. I would like to thank everyone who worked as a team, with our partner agencies, to achieve this.