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ABOVE: St Albans Crown Court

Two men who acted as money launderers for a gang of phone scammers who were fleecing the elderly - including a 94-year-old from Welwyn Garden City - have been jailed for a total of eight years...

The gang based in India used high pressure sales techniques to sell their vulnerable victims vitamins and food supplements they didn't need at ten times High Street prices.

St Albans Crown Court heard how the Hertfordshire pensioner paid around six-hundred-and-fifty pounds for two boxes, before his carer called Trading standards.

When tested, the pills were found to be of no beneficial value whatsoever.

It was the job of 44-year-olds Fredy Fernandes and Salvador Rodrigues, from Lincoln Road in Peterborough, to receive the money into business bank accounts and send it on to the masterminds of the plot back in India.

Although the pair weren't involved in selling the goods, they had had control of the two company bank accounts used to launder the money that came rolling in.

They had been found guilty of converting criminal propery and acquiring criminal property. The charges had been brought under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

Jailing each man for four years, Recorder Samantha Cohen told the pair that the scam they had been part of had left elderly victims "distressed and anxious and shattered their confidence."

Some old folk had lived in fear of the persistent cold calls from India and, because of the embarrassment they felt at being made fools of, had not told their families what was happening.

She told the men: "Each of you had the chance to bring this to an end, but you didn't".

In addition to the jail sentences, the men were told they would be disqualified from holding the directorship of any company for the next eight years. They were also told that a confiscation hearing will be held next year to seize any proceeds they made through their criminal activities.

Prosecutor Andrew Johnson told the jury at the start of the trial: "This case is about the defrauding of some of the most vulnerable members of society, playing on fears as to their health in order to raid their wallets.

It is about the elderly and infirm being sold vitamins and other food and dietary supplements that they did not need, at grossly excessive prices, using high-pressured sales techniques".

An 80-year-widow from Leighton Buzzard was charged £399 for 10 bottles of rosehip extract and 4 bottles of multivitamins.

She told the jury that the telephone caller took her band card details after telling her that the tablets would help her arthritis and general health.

She said: "On the phone they said how different people benefited from them."

Giving evidence via a video link from her home, she said that she was not expecting them to cost £399. She said: "I was not expecting to pay that much money. I was really stunned."

In a statement read to the court by Mr Johnson, a 94-year-old man from Welwyn Garden City, he said he was called by House of Naturecare Limited and was told that Omega Oil tablets could prevent lung cancer.

He agreed to order a box in December 2015, but did not remember any discussion of a price. He was charged £154.95.

Then in January last year he ordered a second box, following a similar call, and was charged £498.88.

Neither man made comment to questions. In defence case statements they say they were innocent individuals brought in by others to run the businesses.

Mr Johnson said: "The prosecution say that it will be quite clear, having heard the evidence, that neither Mr Rodrigues or Mr Fernandes were innocent dupes. They played significant operational roles in carrying on each business".

The jury couldn't reach verdicts on two charges of fraudulent trading that each man faced and the prosecution said they would not be seeking a retrial.

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