Detectives in Cumbria have cracked a sophisticated money laundering operation – with the ringleader now facing an additional 18 month spell in jail.
Mark McCracken was helped by his mother, Linda, and sister, Melanie Wilson, as he hid ill-gotten gains amassed from illegal activities.
Carlisle Crown Court heard how McCracken had for decades been an “acquisitive criminal”. He masterminded a £600,000 bogus vehicle accident insurance scam dubbed “cash for crash” which involved 34 others, and was involved in both an identity fraud which netted almost £315,000, and drug-dealing.
Some money was said to have been stashed away in “great wadges” inside houses connected to McCracken and his family. Laundered loot totalling £77,480 was found by police in two separate Wigton addresses. It was also said to have been disguised or converted into houses bought for cash with the use of false names and bogus documents, and later rented out.
A solicitor who agreed to break the rules of his profession was also employed.
Prosecutor Tim Evans spoke of McCracken’s “lack of proper employment; lack of any significant benefit claims – for years”; and a “lack of tax paid”. “All matters investigated all support the description of his being a career criminal,” said Mr Evans. “His mother and sister fall to be sentenced for assisting him in hiding his criminal assets.”
McCracken, 51, formerly of Wigton and latterly of Carlisle, admitted 11 money laundering offences and perverting the course of justice; 69-year-old Linda McCracken admitted two money laundering crimes, and 47-year-old Wilson three.
Mark McCracken – still serving a jail term for previous offending but said now to be a “changed man” – was handed a consecutive 18-month term. His mother and sister, both of Brindlefield, Wigton, had prison sentences of nine months and 12 months, respectively, suspended for two years. Wilson must complete 80 hours’ unpaid work.
Judge Peter Davies said: “The offences were sophisticated. Mr McCracken was the leading role who involved others.”
His mum and sister were sentenced after admitting helping him hide criminal assets.
Linda McCracken, of Brindlefield, Wigton, was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment suspended for two years. Melanie Wilson, of Brindlefield, Wigton, was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment suspended for two year years. She will also be required to complete 80 hours unpaid work over the next 12 months and pay a victim surcharge of £100.
Senior Investigating Officer Andy Hill said: “Mark McCracken has been a criminal for a long time.
“He hid his ill-gotten gains away and probably thought nobody could find a way through his tangled financial web.
“But the fact he has been put before a court and is now facing justice shows we will follow the trail that proves the guilt of such criminals, and pursue criminal assets – hitting them where it hurts.”
Confiscation proceedings against Mark McCracken, Linda McCracken and Melanie Wilson have been started, with a confiscation hearing, where the proceeds from their criminal activities will be confiscated, expected to take place at Carlisle Crown Court on a date to be fixed.
He added: “These convictions are the results of dedicated and dogged detective work throughout a highly complex case.
“It has led to a conviction for a career criminal – and those who helped him.
“We hope it sends a warning to those attempting to launder cash that they can’t hide behind such murky financial dealings.”
Officers worked in partnership with the Insurance Fraud Bureau while investigating fraud involving Mark McCracken.