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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 March, 2005, 17:50 GMT
Gervais fan 'foiled bullion scam'
Ricky Gervais
Money was allegedly stolen from Mr Gervais' bank account
A fan of the comic Ricky Gervais foiled a plan to buy gold bars with 200,000 stolen from the actor's London bank account, a court has heard.

Four men and a woman are accused of forging The Office star's passport and wiring 196,000 from his bank account.

Bullion dealer Anthony Baird alerted police after someone claiming to be Mr Gervais made a large order for a consignment of gold, the court heard.

All five denied charges of conspiracy to defraud at Wood Green Crown Court.

Mr Gervais, who played David Brent in the hit BBC series, was one of three people targeted in the alleged 350,000 sting, the court heard.

Transfer request

John Dodd, prosecuting, said Sharonjeet Snober, who worked in a NatWest call centre in Southampton, accessed confidential information and changed details on the bank's computers.

Mr Dodd claimed the 28-year-old had repeatedly betrayed her bosses to identify wealthy customers who were abroad and might not miss the money immediately.

The prosecution alleges a doctor was the first victim of the gang, who allegedly drained his Chichester account of almost 127,000 to buy 18kg of gold.

But an attempt to take another 30,000 failed when bank staff became suspicious.

The court heard Mr Gervais' account at Charing Cross branch became a target when a transfer request was sent via fax on 1 April 2003.

Suspicion aroused

The money was reportedly moved to bullion firm Baird and Company in Stratford, east London, and arrangements made for the gold to be collected five days later.

But the owner's suspicions had been aroused and police officers were waiting for two couriers who turned up to collect the gold.

Kenneth Speight, 39, originally from Erith, south east London, but now of no fixed address, denies three counts of conspiracy to defraud between February and April 2004.

Sharonjeet Snober, of Southampton, Hampshire, has denied the same charge.

Mushtaq Javed, 43, of Crawley, West Sussex; Craig Reeves, 28, of Alton, Hampshire and Harry Peach, 57, of Leatherhead, Surrey, who worked for bullion courier company Express Despatch in Redhill, Surrey, also deny fraud charges.

Gervais fraud trial is adjourned
28 Feb 05 |  Entertainment



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