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Longer prison sentences for frauds that target the vulnerable and fresh sanctions against money-laundering are recommended in new judges’ guidelines issued by the Sentencing Council.

The impact of fraud on victims should be a central feature when judges come to consider the level of punishment imposed on convicted fraudsters, the guidance explains. Previous guidelines for many fraud offences referred to the harm done to victims merely as an aggravating factor.

Some of the recommendations significantly raise the starting point in terms of sentence length. The previous range for offences involving more than £500,000, for example, was four to seven years’ custody with a starting point of five years. The range in the new guideline is five to eight years with a starting point of seven.

“[Fraud] offences are committed by offenders for financial gain but can mean much more than financial loss to the victim,” the Sentencing Council said. “Even a relatively small sum lost can leave some victims badly affected.” Judges are urged to consider the effect on vulnerable victims such as the elderly.

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