Ignas Valatka, 35, of Western Gateway, Newham, was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment at Snaresbrook Crown Court on Thursday, 7 January.
Valatka pleaded guilty to six counts of possession of an identity document with improper intention, one count of possession of articles for use in frauds, and four counts of fraud at the same court on Friday 4 December 2020. One charge of fraud by false representation was left to lie on file.
On Friday, 24 July, officers from one of the Met’s Project Servator teams – who patrol areas unpredictably and are specially trained to spot tell-tale signs of criminal activity – were on patrol in the London Royal Docks area when they saw a man in the driver’s seat of a parked brown van, rummaging around in the centre console area. Officers went over to talk to the man, as the vehicle had been noted by the team as being parked unusually in the public carpark for a fortnight.
Valatka could not provide officers with details of the van’s owner and gave several excuses about why he was inside it, and so he was subsequently arrested on suspicion of theft of a motor vehicle.
He was found in possession of a house key and fob, marked ‘Poplar.’ When asked about it, he told officers he had been renting an apartment nearby on a short term let – however it was later established that he had been living at the address in Western Gateway, E16, for several years.
When officers explained they were going to search the apartment in connection with the theft of motor vehicle offence, Valatka lied to officers. He denied that he lived there and said he only picked-up post from a mailbox at the address – even giving the wrong flat number when asked what number the mail was posted to.
However, officers identified what number Valatka lived at and carried out a search of the apartment – it soon became clear that evidence relating to fraud and document offences was present in the address.
The evidence included £12,770 in cash, various passports, identity cards and driving licences. The featured Valatka’s photo but with different names and different dates of birth. There were also numerous bankcards not in Valatka’s name, a plethora of correspondence in different names and different addresses, mobile phones, laptops, hard drives, iPads and sim cards.
Due to the documents and cash found, Valatka was further arrested on suspicion of money laundering and fraud by false representation.
While officers were searching the premises, they entered Valatka’s bedroom and on the computer saw an email from a bank dated 23 July, saying they were reviewing a business loan application for £50,000 for a ‘company’ called Leo Foxtons. One of the false identity cards with Valatka’s image on it had the name ‘Leo Foxton.’
A business database said the company was set-up in February 2018 and dealt in real estate, however the court heard that Valatka set this company up for the sole benefit of committing fraud as it had been done so using false details – including an address he did not reside at – and had been used for various other exhibits seized.
Enquiries carried out by detectives from the Met’s Economic Crime Team revealed that Valatka had used false documents to apply for four other loans – with £194,000 applied for in total. £50,000 had been granted, but was subsequently frozen by the bank that approved it.
During the property search, officers also found a driving test report, which was obtained using false details.
Valatka answered no comment to all questions put to him during his police interview. He was charged on 25 July and convicted as above.
Detective Constable Scott Pounder, the investigating officer from the Economic Crime team, said:
“Valatka fed officers a string of lies from the moment he was stopped, clearly in a bid to try and avoid the true level of his deceit being exposed. However, his fraudulent world crumbled thanks to the Project Servator officers’ instincts to stop and speak with him.
“Our subsequent financial investigation, led by Detective Sergeant Kelly Morrison, then uncovered the scale of Valatka’s fraudulent offending. We created a photo album showing the various ID documents showing his photo but with different names, leaving him with no option but to plead guilty.
“This investigation highlights that fraud does not pay and we will robustly crackdown on those who think it does.”