Mass-Marketing Fraud

No Longer Just a North American Problem

By Richard Hurley, Ph.D., J.D., CFE, CPA;Tim Harvey, CFE, JP

 richard-hurley-80x80.jpg   tim-harvey-80x80.jpg Global Fraud Focus 


George Abrue, 30, was a bright and articulate man. Unfortunately, he was also an unscrupulous and callous coward.  

That was how Detective Chief Inspector Dave Clark of the City of London Police described the ringleader of one of the U.K.'s largest-ever "boiler room" frauds after Abrue was recently convicted and sent to prison for five years. The courts also convicted eight other family members and friends in the scheme. Many more have been arrested.

Abrue's gang members, who called potential victims from boiler-room operations in Spain, would use aggressive, high-pressure (hence "boiler room") sales tactics to sell shares in bogus mineral and biofuel companies, which they said were about to float on the stock market. The crooks produced professional websites and brochures to convince victims, many elderly and on fixed incomes, to part with their savings.

Abrue laundered the money through Swedish and Italian bank accounts to fund a lavish lifestyle for himself and his associates. He threw parties for up to 300 in top Barcelona hotels, and he purchased expensive sports cars.

"(Abrue) showed no sentiment in his crime and clearly thought nothing of the impact his fraud had on its victims," said Clark. "Some of those victims have been suicidal, and the psychological effect on them and their families have been tragic, all so Abrue and his friends could live the lifestyle of a Premier League footballer spending astronomical sums of money."


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