A former March factory worker has described his shock at discovering two men who worked alongside him have been jailed for their part in a phone scam which saw elderly victims fleeced out of thousands of pounds.
The man, who does not want to be named, worked alongside Fredy Fernandes and Salvador Rodrigues at the IPL plant in Westry March for a number of years and says the pair were still at the food processing factory when he left five weeks ago.
It’s been reported the two men were part of an Indian-based gang of phone scammers who charged the elderly up to £400 for simple vitamins they claimed could cure cancer.
Rodrigues and Fernandes, both 44 and from Peterborough, reportedly helped launder £370,000 for the gang in the UK and then sent the cash back to crime bosses in India.
The gang are said to have used high pressure sales techniques to sell victims bogus supplements at 10 times the high street price. As money launderers Fernandes and Rodrigues would receive the money into business bank accounts and send it on to India.
The gang was caught after pensioners aged from 80 to 94 complained of ‘pushy’ sellers who refused to take no for an answer.
Rodrigues and Fernandes were each jailed for four years at St Albans Crown Court last week after being found guilty of acquiring criminal property.
Fernandes was convicted of converting £111,352 of criminal property that was paid into a Santander bank account held in the name of House of Naturecare Ltd.
He was also found guilty of acquiring criminal property in the sum of £15,590 that had been paid to him.
Rodrigues was convicted of converting £238,495 of criminal property that was paid into a Lloyds bank account in the name of Nutri Care Quest Limited.
He too was convicted of acquiring criminal property in the sum of £10,060 that had been paid to him.
They reportedly claimed they were innocent, having been brought in by others in India to run the business.
Their former work colleague said: “I spotted the story online and couldn’t believe what I was reading. Salvador was a quality assurance supervisor and had been with IPL for probably about five years. Fredy was a quality assurance operative responsible for checking the quality of produce and had been there for about 12 months.
“I don’t think anyone had any suspicions they were doing anything like this. They certainly didn’t have a lavish lifestyle. Fernandes didn’t even drive a car and they lived in a normal house just off Lincoln Road in Peterborough. There was certainly nothing flash about them.
“In fact the impression we had was they were just two ordinary hardworking men,” he said.
A spokesman for IPL, which is a sole supplier of potatoes and other produce to Asda supermarkets, said: “We are aware of the situation, but we don’t comment on individual situations.”