Man suspected of swindling North East OAPs out of £1m found in USA with FBI's help

A fugitive financial advisor believed to have swindled elderly people out of almost £1m is being brought back to the UK following an international manhunt.

Tuesday, 10th May 2016, 1:49 pm
Updated Tuesday, 10th May 2016, 3:30 pm
Kole Lulgjuraj.

Kole Lulgjuraj is suspected of fleecing elderly people out of their life savings to fund a luxury lifestyle before fleeing the country.

Following years of painstaking work by officers from Durham Constabulary, plus a bit of good fortune, Lulgjuraj has been arrested in the USA.

Detective Constable Dave Wearmouth, of Durham Constabulary’s major crime team, said: “This has been a long investigation and sadly several of the victims in this case have died.

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“However, we have never given up and we are determined to get justice for those victims and their families.”

The crimes came to light after relatives of one of Lulgjuraj’s alleged victims, who has since died, queried her bank account when working out the funding of care home bills.

Police were called in and launched an investigation into his business dealings.

That led onto other victims in the County Durham area.

The majority were elderly and most were stripped of their life savings and assets.

Lulgjuraj, 50, who is originally from Montenegro, was interviewed by officers in 2012 but fled the country after he was released on bail.

Police launched Operation Toll Gate to find Lulgjuraj and investigations showed that he had fled to the USA.

In January this year he was arrested by the FBI in Indianapolis, Indiana after he started work at a bank.

A worker carried out an internet search of Lulgjuraj’s name and a newspaper article was found which showed he was wanted by police.

Now, following several procedures, officers from Durham are due to travel to Indiana this month to bring Lulgjuraj, who used to live in Darlington, back to the UK and charge him with six counts of theft and one of fraud.

Det Con Wearmouth added: “I am delighted that we have had this breakthrough.

“It goes to show that, there is truly no hiding place for suspected criminals in today’s digital world.

“It may take some time, but we will find you.”