London counter-terrorism officer jailed for 7/7 property fraud

Counter-terrorism officer Detective constable Daren Pooley has been jailed for defrauding the U.K. London Metropolitan Police Force out of £93,000 [about US$ 146,000] via a property scam during the 7 July bombings investigation. Pooley was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment by a judge at London’s Southwark crown court.

The conspiracy to defraud the Metropolitan Police Force involved overcharging the Police for apartment rentals for Pooley and other officers whilst they were based in Leeds as part of the investigation into the 7 July bombings. The other police officers had no knowledge of the fraud.

When the counter terrorist team was deployed to Leeds for the investigation, they were split into two parties and housed in hotels. The cost per officer for the hotel accommodation was around £3,000 a month.

To save on expenses, the counter terrorist teams were moved to apartments. However, Pooley had by then met his future wife, Nicola Pooley, when she was staying in the same hotel as the teams and started a relationship with her.

The brother in law of Nicola Pooley operated a company called Citizen Group. He arranged for a lettings firm to provide four apartments for the police team, which were smaller and not fully serviced, in the Clarence Dock area of Leeds. Citizen Group paid £650 rental a month for each apartment but then charged the Metropolitan Police Force £1,950, with Pooley and his conspirators pocketing the difference each month.

Experience shows that the opportunities for fraud increase when arrangements are rushed for operational reasons. Decisions have to be made with a lack of information and the chance to review fully the procedures for appointment and expenditure.

To combat the opportunities for fraud under these circumstances, it is advisable to take the following steps when dealing with a major expense in unfamiliar circumstances:

  • Research the availability and pricing for similar goods or services in the same area;
  • Insist that the prospective providers submit details of their fees and conditions in writing:
  • Implement some form of break clause in the agreement should it be found that the charges are exorbitant;
  • Make sure that the decision maker to opt for a certain good or service later justifies their reasoning in writing;
  • When timing permits, conduct verification checks on the providers;
  • Maintain an audit trail of all correspondence between the parties; and
  • Promote a code of conduct for each party to act honestly and have them made aware that fraudulent behaviour will be investigated and prosecuted

For the chance of making a quick buck, Pooley destroyed his career and his marriage. Though Pooley is entirely responsible for his own actions, thought should be given to the fact that had not the opportunity arisen or anti fraud measures suitably explained then Pooley may have passed.

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