Rebecca Batchelor is alleged to have known that huge sums of cash transferred into her bank account as part of her former lover’s dodgy dealings were the proceeds of crime
A model is on trial accused of benefiting from her ex-boyfriend’s conspiracy to defraud a large number of elderly people.
Rebecca Batchelor, 21, is alleged to have known that huge sums of cash transferred into her bank account as part of her former lover, Anis Ben-Sghaier’s, dodgy dealings, were the proceeds of crime.
Known as Bekka, Batchelor rose to fame as she was one of a number of cheerleaders at Billericay Town who were sacked for being too distracting to players.
Batchelor, of Rayleigh, came before Chelmsford Crown Court, Essex, for the start of the case against her yesterday.
Alongside her in the dock were Anis Ben-Sghaier’s younger brother, Bilal, of Harlow, and Cathereen Welch, of Waltham Abbey, who is also the former lover of Ben-Sghaier.
All three defendants, who are alleged to have committed one count of converting criminal property between January 2013 and September 2016, deny the charges.
Turning to the case against the trio, prosecutor Sarah Przybylska explained to the jury of twelve how the defendants were supposedly connected to the widespread scam.
She outlined how brothers Anis and Amin Ben-Sghaier, who have already pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to defraud a number of people, would cold call elderly people and offer to make them lot of money.
Their victims would be fooled into believing that by making a payment of cash upfront, which they were told constituted taxes, auctioneer fees and down-payments, they would be able to make a hefty profit.
“It was all a lie,” said Ms Przybylska.
“The money they paid would not go to auctioneer houses or to the tax man.
“It would go to Anis, Amin, and their associates. These defendants were among those people.”
Expanding on the prosecution case, Ms Przybylska explained how the defendants had money paid into their accounts by some of the victims and went on to spend it.
“Each of them knew, or suspected, that the money were the proceeds of crime,” she said.
“The prosecution say that they did know – they of course say that they didn’t.”
Ms Przybylska then read from a list of victims who lost money at the hands of the older Ben-Sghaier brothers, including 79-year-old John Price who was conned out of £190,763.07 between November 2013 and May 2015.
Mr Price, who was cold-called and told he was buying investments in rare earth metals, paid money into accounts belonging to Amis, Amin, Bilal, Welch and Batchelor, it is claimed.
Turning to another victim, Ms Przybylska revealed how 87-year-old Dorothy Hepper lost £780 as part of Anis and Amin Ben-Sghaier’s scam, but that money was not paid into any of the defendants’ accounts.
However, a WhatsApp conversation between Anis and Batchelor revealed the latter had drafted a letter to be sent to the pensioner and the pair discussed the contents at length.
The letter, which is said to have been drafted by Batchelor and sent by Anis, claimed Ms Hepper would have her deposit repaid on completion of the sale of her carbon credits.
Ms Przybylska alleged the transactions made by the defendants’ following the receipt of cash into their accounts was not consistent with their claims that they innocently received the funds.
The court heard extensive details as to the spending of the three in the dock, including how 23-year-old Welch, who used to work for Harrods, spent a total of £28,595.60 between November 2013 and April 2015, despite earning less than £1,500 per month.
Examining specific deposits made, Ms Przybylska noted Welch received £3,400 from Mr Price on February 24, 2014, and went on to make purchases at stores including House of Fraser, Next and Ikea.
Between July 16 and July 28, 2014, Bilal received £5,380 as part of his brothers’ defrauding of Mr Price, with all of the money being spent or withdrawn rather than being transferred to anyone else.
Batchelor too had money transferred into her account, with one example being the £2,535 she received from a Mr Singh, which she then spent on a shopping spree including a £517 lunch at a restaurant in London.
Batchelor, along with Anis, Amin and Bilal Ben Sghaier, were arrested on January 19 last year.
During her interview with police, Batchelor, who started dating Anisin January 2015, claimed she grew suspicious of his dealings and that he later admitted he was defrauding people out of their money.
She also told officers that she had allowed her ex to use her bank account to receive payments as she believed he did not have one of his own.
Welch admitted to police that when she went out with Anis she allowed him access to her accounts so he could pay the rent on their flat but denied knowing anything about a fraud.
The trial continues.