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Barking and Chadwell Heath fraudsters jailed for multi-million train ticket scam

Some of the blank tickets seized by police

Four men from Barking and Chadwell Heath, who were ringleaders of a train ticket scam fraud, have been jailed for a total of 24 years.

The organised crime syndicate produced and sold huge amounts of tickets across London, raking in an estimated £8million over three years.

Two brothers, Stefan and Sorin Covrig, and a third man, Ciprian Buda, manufactured the tickets from their home in Billet Road, Chadwell Heath.

They used blank tickets, card readers, computer programs and printers to produce fake tickets on a massive scale.

The tickets appeared genuine, worked on ticket barriers, and covered weekly and monthly rail travel between zones one and six.

A fourth man, Manuel Da Costa Silva, then distributed the tickets, selling them on to lower-level distributors. 

Manuel Da Costa Silva

The 29-year-old, of Longbridge Road, Barking, became a prime suspect early on.

He used his profit from the scam to buy designer label clothes and two cars; a Porsche Panamera and a BMW I8.

DC Nick Barr, of British Transport Police, said: “The actions of this gang pulled money that could’ve been used to fund security, trains and other rail services across London.

“They all made a profit, with the ring leaders earning hundreds of thousands of pounds. This money isn’t theirs to keep and we are using the law to strip them of their assets. We’ve already seized £300,000 worth of homes bought by Stefan Covrig in Romania and taken Silva’s cars.”

The scheme first came to BTP’s attention in October 2017, after ticket inspectors began to notice the fake tickets.

After months of investigation, BTP raided properties in Greater London and Leicester and arrested Silva, Sorin Covrig and Buda.

Stefan Covrig

Stefan Covrig was tracked down and detained in his native Romania.

When their homes were raided, officers seized nearly 60,000 blank tickets, which if turned into counterfeits would fetch up to £20million.

Further investigation identified nine others working with the group, who were all arrested for their varying degrees of involvement.

All 13 were convicted of fraud and were sentenced at Inner London Crown Court on Friday, 14 February.

Silva was also convicted for money laundering. He was jailed for seven years and six months.

Stefan Covrig was handed the same sentence, while his brother and Buda were each jailed four four-and-a-half years.

Sorin Covrig and Ciprian Buda

Siwan Hayward, Director of Compliance and Policing at TfL, said: “Organised fraud like this is rare and we have robust controls in place to identify and stop illegal activity.

“Our team of 450 revenue inspectors operates across our network day and night and includes a specialist counterfeit ticket team who detected these fake National Rail tickets circulating on our network.

“This scam defrauded the public of millions of pounds that should have been invested in the transport network. We have a zero tolerance approach to any fraud on our network and welcome the news that these criminals have been brought to justice.”Other members

Ciprian Dumitru-Stefan, 39, of Prince Regent Lane, Beckton, was jailed for 11 months. He was also sentenced for money laundering.

Yusuf Bello, 27, of Prince Regent Lane in Beckton, was jailed for 15 months.

Rodney Capemba, 27, of Great Eastern Road, Stratford, was jailed for 18 months.

Adrian Morarescu, 49, of Dunkeld Road, Dagenham, was given a 14-month suspended sentence.

Joanna Li, 26, of Meredith Street, Plaistow, received an 11-month suspended sentence and 100 hours of unpaid work.

Mamadu Conte, 31, of Verdant Lane, Lewisham, was jailed for 15 months.

A member of the group who can’t be named for legal reasons was jailed for 15 months.

Joao Pedro Martins Garcia, 33, of Eade Road, Tottenham, was given a 150-hour community order.

Dong Nguyen, 33, of Wick Road, Hackney, received 120 hours of unpaid work.

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