Trade & investment

FIB expertise helps catch ‘Lady’ fraudster

  • 12 January 2005

With the assistance of ICC’s Financial Investigation Bureau (FIB), law enforcement officials in Merseyside, northwest England, recently captured and successfully prosecuted self-styled ‘Lady’ Geraldine Travers.

A veteran con artist, Travers is currently languishing in jail, her jet-set days of high stakes crime and deception now completely unravelled.

‘Lady’ Geraldine, as she refers to herself, is in fact an impostor of Russian origin named Eva Aydelman. First jailed in November 2003 for mortgage fraud and illegal immigration, Ms Aydelman acquired her alias by stealing the identity of a deceased Irish infant.

In court again last November, she pleaded guilty to obtaining services and property by deception and had another two years added to her original sentence of one year. FIB expert witness testimony played a key role in winning this new conviction.

FIB Assistant Director Jon Merrett stated: “The scam that sparked the FIB investigation involved an Insurance Financial Guarantee Bond written in Slovakian and English that police discovered at her house. FIB was called upon to verify the legitimacy of the financial documentation and concluded that the bonds and supporting documentation were fraudulent, constructed entirely from scratch by Ms Aydelman.”

Police discovered that Ms Aydelman sold two of these bonds, each with a face value of US $5 million, to two Czech lawyers who paid a total of US $620,000. In order to dupe them, she travelled by privately chartered Lear Jet to the Czech Republic, hoping to give the illusion of a successful businesswoman conducting business on behalf of a credible bank.

As part of its Expert Witness Service, FIB research discovered that the firm listed as the issuer of the bonds, The General People’s Insurance Company, had been defunct since 1999. In addition, while in operation the company had never offered such a financial instrument.

Mr Merrett provided further details, stating: “The bond did not have an issue date, which was highly unusual. Our records indicated that the company issuing the bond had already had its licence revoked by the Ministry of Finance of the Slovak Republic. Furthermore, the title of the bond, ‘Insurance Financial Guarantee’, was very close to similar fake guarantees. The reference to codes published by the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris was another clue, as the ICC does not publish any voluntary codes for such instruments.”

Many such commonly identifiable clues to fraudulent financial documents can be found in the FIB publication “Preventing Financial Instrument Fraud: The Money Launderer’s Tool”. This publication was developed to allow banks and other financial organizations to quickly identify fraudulent documents.