Hannah Forsyth from Exchange Chambers in legal first

September 14, 2022

Hannah Forsyth from Exchange Chambers has prosecuted at sentence for the first case in the country where offenders have forced their victims to help with the creation of cryptocurrency accounts to steal money from them and evade identification.

Jordan Barrett, 23, and Ted Richards, 24, forced their victims to open cryptocurrency accounts at gunpoint in a bid to covertly steal money.

At Carlisle Crown Court, both men admitted two counts of robbery and two counts of false imprisonment.

Barrett and Richards targeted the property because Barrett believed a third man living there had been the driver in a collision which seriously injured his girlfriend, the court heard.

Armed with a starter pistol and a knife, the masked duo “took the victims’ phones, forced them to unlock them and then log into their online bank accounts in order to move money between the accounts,” prosecutor Hannah Forsyth said.

After cash was transferred, Barrett and Richards then tried to deposit £3,500 from one account to a cryptocurrency exchange website.

They forced their victims to hold up ID while photos were taken and attempts were made to open bogus accounts in their names.

“While the male with the knife took the pictures and forced the victims to move money between accounts, the man with the pistol stood over the others and pointed the gun – which had a torch and laser on it – at them,” Ms Forsyth said.

When a friend arrived at the property, one victim was urged to make him leave and warned: “Don’t do anything stupid and you won’t get hurt”, the court was told.

Barrett and Richards stole a games console and iPhone before Barrett fired the imitation firearm outside the property “as a warning”.

Police were alerted before the fake cryptocurrency accounts could be authenticated.

Detectives and financial investigators carried out an inquiry and found the gun at Barrett’s address. DNA found on the magazine and trigger belonged to Richards.

Judge Nicholas Barker jailed Barrett, of Red Bank Square, Carlisle, for six years nine months and Richards, of Empire Square, Southwark, London, for six years.

The judge said their victims were subjected to a “terrifying ordeal” as they believed the gun was genuine.