In the game of Monopoly, players are only a roll of the dice away from going to jail. While “jail” in the game means that you can’t play until you roll a double number our way out, five Brits find themselves behind bars, for a collective 22 years, for using “Monopoly money.” Only, they used the fugazi cash to scam jewelers out of millions of dollars worth of jewelry and diamonds.
According to the Avon & Somerset Constabulary, the scamming crew was brought down by an investigation into an “elaborate fraud in Bristol, where a jeweller lost £420,000 [$593,348] worth of diamonds, diamond rings and watches, another in London where a jeweller was defrauded to the value of €7.7 million [about $8.6 million], a £250,000 [$353,183]theft in Wiltshire and a £200,000 [$282,547] theft in Leeds.” The gang would swap out real bank notes with counterfeit cash that had the word “Monopoly” printed on them. The law enforcement detail elaborates on the “Monopoly money” used:
The notes were printed in such a way that the ‘Monopoly’ wording was hidden by some genuine outer notes and the paper bands around them.
It is believed the notes were printed in this way so that if the offenders were stopped in possession of them, they could say that they were clearly not genuine and therefore could not be used to deceive anybody. It was only when disguised within the bundles that the notes appeared to be real.
AOL describes some of the gang’s work, beginning with the finessing of Bond Street jewelry dealer John Calleija of £6.1 million [about $8.6 million]:
He agreed to meet with gang leader Gianni Accamo (44), who counted out wads of genuine money in front of him, but when he turned to put the counting machine away, he switched the cash for fakes. It was only after the dealer left that he realised he had been robbed.
A similar trick was pulled in Bristol, Leeds and Wiltshire. In Bristol, a jeweller lost £420,000 worth of diamonds, diamond rings and watches. He met members of the gang in a hotel, where he was paid in a combination of genuine Euros and a bankers’ draft. When a problem was found with the bankers’ draft, he was given Euros as security to cover the value of the draft until it was corrected the following day. It was only later he discovered the second bundle of Euros were fakes.
The crew even had a desk rigged with a person to hide inside, to switch legit cash for the fake notes as deals transpired.
Most of the quintuplet (four of whom are family members) were picked up by police at a Nottingham residence in November 2014. Stolen jewelry, over a hundred thousand in various currencies and more bundles of fake cash were seized at the scene. Now, behind bars, all will face a Proceeds of Crime hearing. The jailed are listed below with their charges:
Dragoslav Djordjevic (aged 44) of Nottingham, admitted conspiracy to commit fraud (Bristol), theft (Wiltshire) and concealing criminal property (money laundering) and was jailed for seven years and four months
Juliano Nikolic (aged 26), of Nottingham, admitted conspiracy to commit fraud (Bristol) and concealing criminal property (money laundering) and was jailed for four years and four months
Bruno Nikolic (aged 27), of Gainsborough in Lincolnshire, admitted conspiracy to commit fraud (Bristol) and was sentenced to 22 months imprisonment
Dusica Nikolic (aged 45) of Nottingham, had previously admitted concealing criminal property (money laundering) and was jailed on 4 September, 2015 for two and a half years.
Gianni Accamo (aged 44) of no fixed address admitted conspiring to commit fraud (London) and was convicted after trial of theft (Leeds) and was jailed for six years
Needless to say, there is no “Get Out Of Jail Free” card coming these folks’ way.