EXCLUSIVE: Britain’s Greatest Fraudster who once stole £500,000 from a bank and took part in his first heist aged SEVEN reveals how he turned his life around after seeing his young son in tears when he came to visit him in prison
- To watch the full episode of MailOnline’s new series ‘My Story’, click here
Britain’s greatest fraudster has told MailOnline how he once stole £500,000 from a bank and took part in his first heist aged seven – before turning his life around after seeing his young son in tears when he visited him in prison.
Tony Sales, 49, founded We Fight Fraud after being jailed following six years on the run – without his wife knowing he was a criminal – before eventually turning his life around to fight fraud.
He told MailOnline how he began his life of crime aged just seven when his uncle lowered him through a window into a pub so he could unlock the door and allow him to rob it.
Now, he has spoken to MailOnline about his incredible journey from hardened criminal to campaigner, which forms the latest episode of this website’s new human interest series on YouTube called ‘My Story’ featuring people with extraordinary life stories.
To watch the full episode click here.
Britain’s greatest fraudster Tony Sales has told MailOnline how he once stole £500,000 from a bank and took part in his first heist aged seven
Pictured as a child, Tony spoke to MailOnline about how he turned his life of crime around
For his first heist, Mr Sales was paid with a ‘bottle of pop and a packet of fags’, but it soon began a series of snowballing offences which ultimately ended up with the half-a-million bank heist.
‘I wanted to always be someone else,’ Mr Sales said. ‘I was always out as a kid, I was never really in.
‘I didn’t like how I looked. I didn’t like, you know, the way I dressed. And so that drove the criminal behaviour from credit cards to stealing car radios, to stealing out of shops.’
Mr Sales initially took to crime because he believed money would lead to a better life and lead him out of a childhood filled with sexual abuse and domestic violence.
He spent his cash on designer jackets and trainers and hoped he would be ‘able to bring my mom and dad back together’.
But he soon became trapped in a ‘circle of crime’ which he described as an ‘addiction’.
Soon he was hired to carry out a fraud which involved stealing £500,000 from a bank by withdrawing it from an account that belonged to someone else.
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Describing the tense wait inside the bank, Mr Sales said: ‘[The pre-order] has gone through, I’ve told them that I’m here waiting.
‘And then every time that door goes you’re like, Is this it? And then they’re behind the counter on the phone and you’re thinking, are they talking to the police? Are they trying to find out what’s going on?’
When he was finally given the cash, Mr Sales told how the bank tellers asked him if he wanted to count it.
‘I was like “No, I want to go!”,’ he laughed. ‘And then I just walked out.’
After eventually being imprisoned for possession of an imitation firearm, Mr Sales decided to stop violent crime and instead became a full-time fraudster by stealing identities.
He described seeing identity theft as a victimless crime until he was arrested by police and discovered officers had to speak to every person whose identity he had stolen.
‘I didn’t realise that […] We’d stolen a dead person’s identity. [His] daughter was upstairs crying her eyes out because we’d stolen her dad’s identity.
‘And that made me go, what is this? I’d not even thought about the victims.’
After being interviewed by police while his wife was pregnant with his daughter, Mr Sales went on the run for six years, all the while keeping it a secret from his wife and children.
He told MailOnline how he began his life of crime aged just seven when his uncle lowered him through a window into a pub so he could unlock the door and allow him to rob it
Brought up by loving grandparents in Greenwich, Sales had to witness violent domestic abuse against his mother by his step-father
Mr Sales documents funded a life of flash cars, designer watches and lavish holidays through cyber and identity fraud (Pictured on holiday during the height of his criminal career)
Mr Sales described how he turned to crime as a child while experiencing sexual abuse and domestic violence
But after being stopped by police and giving them a name which had a police warrant attached to it, he was finally busted and ultimately sent back to prison.
After his wife found out about his secret criminal life, Mr Sales said it was three months before she could face coming to talk to him. It was this moment which changed the course of his life forever.
‘As she walks in the visiting hall, she’s got my son, Zach, she’s holding his hand, and as she walks in I can see that he’s crying.
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‘The other two are upset as well but he’s just crying. And I’m like, “What’s up with him?”
‘And she goes, “What do you think what’s up with him? You’re in prison. Again. Now, what do you think’s up with him? Of course he’s going to be upset.”
‘And it’s at that moment that I realised I’m now pushing my trauma onto my own children. And that’s going to be a circle again, that’s just going to continue this crazy circle of crime. It’s only me that can change this.’
After serving out his sentence Mr Sales got a job at a supermarket before beginning to use his criminal past for good.
But it’s not been easy – due to his criminal past, Mr Sales says he now gets ‘continuous’ death threats. Nevertheless, he is continuing to campaign for change.
Mr Sales says it is vital services understand ‘what actually makes a criminal.’
‘It’s not what most people think it is, just greed and not caring about things. There’s lots of things emotionally that go on within that.
‘And unless we start looking at that and talking to the younger generations and understanding how it is for them, actually understanding how they feel in their environment, there’s nothing I’m going to say to the kids that’s going to make them stop.
‘Society has to get better at understanding all of the problems that there are in order to truly combat them.’
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