Three jailed for exploiting women for financial gain
A woman who ran a sexual services business has been jailed alongside her brother and an associate after detectives discovered they were exploiting vulnerable women for their own financial gain.
Claudia Anca, 27 (31.05.94) and Vasile Anca, 24 (08.01.97), both of Garfield Road, Chingford, and Mihaita Strat, 51 (14.11.70), of Henley Road, Redbridge, were sentenced at Snaresbrook Crown Court on Wednesday, 17 November following a comprehensive investigation by the Met’s Modern Slavery and Child Exploitation Team.
The Ancas were each sentenced to six years’ imprisonment and Strat was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment.
All three originally denied their involvement and a four-week trial started on Monday, 8 November. However, due to the vast amount of evidence against them, they all pleaded guilty on Tuesday, 9 November to controlling prostitution. The Anca siblings also pleaded guilty to supplying Class A drugs.
Charges of trafficking have been left to lie on file.
The court heard the defendants ran a sexual services business which was advertised on a website. The business provided transport for the sex workers to and from a customer’s location, which was a hotel or home address. Typically, a customer would phone the number on the online adverts and a woman would be driven to their preferred location, which was usually a hotel.
Claudia was in charge of the enterprise. It was her phone number that took the calls from customers and she directed the sex workers. Her brother Vasile had a leading role and assisted Claudia in running the business as well as frequently providing transport for the women. Cocaine would also be provided by the siblings if asked for by the customers.
Strat also assisted in the running of the business. At times he helped Claudia with the website and gave direction to the sex workers. Like Vasile, he also acted as a driver, transporting the women to appointments and back.
The court heard the trio ran this business from at least March 2019, which is when a company called ‘Ace Concept’ was set-up, with the siblings listed as directors. It did not appear have a legitimate purpose and was set-up to facilitate the criminal enterprise.
Detectives discovered that Ace Concept was linked to a number of adverts on a classified website. Claudia’s phone number was on the individual adverts to book sexual services with the women. In addition, the siblings’ cardholder details were listed for the adverts on the website.
There were 73 payments from the siblings between July 2019 and January 2021, totalling £23,162.99. Strat also paid for some of the advertisements in August 2020.
During their investigation, detectives identified and confirmed at least six call outs to hotels through CCTV, mobile and ANPR work. On two of these occasions, the Met deployed undercover officers to pose as customers.
On 10 December 2020, an undercover officer called Claudia and they discussed prices for sexual services and drugs. The officer went to a hotel in Barking where he met the woman and later had the drugs delivered by Vasile. The officer then made his excuses, paid her in full, and left the hotel. The woman was picked-up by Vasile and taken to the siblings’ home address.
The drugs provided to the officer were analysed and confirmed to be cocaine. The packaging was also examined and Vasile’s fingerprint was found on it.
With enough evidence now collected against the defendants, detectives ran a ‘sting’ on 13 January 2021 with the aim of arresting the trio.
The sting began with an undercover officer calling Claudia and arranging for two sex workers and cocaine to be brought to a hotel in Barking. Shortly before 22:40hrs, Claudia called the officer to say the girls were outside the hotel. He went to meet them and Strat called out ‘did you order an escort,’ to which he replied he did.
The officer told the women to go and wait inside the hotel. Strat was then arrested by officers, who found £890 in cash in his car as well as a Satnav, which had the siblings’ address in it, and a small zip lock bag, which later tested positive for traces of cocaine.
Police officers later examined the sex workers’ bags – inside were several unused condoms and three black wraps of powder, which later tested positive for cocaine.
At about 23:40hrs on 13 January, officers attended the Ancas’ home address and arrested the siblings. Officers searched the house and seized a quantity of cash and cocaine, several mobile phones and a pink notebook which contained several handwritten financial entries for the business.
Whilst at the police station, Strat noticed Claudia and said to an officer under his breath, ‘that is the boss, she is the boss.’
Claudia’s mobile phones were analysed by detectives and contained messages between herself and customers, sex workers, her brother and Strat. A typical message to the sex workers would indicate the price agreed for an hour, the postcode of the meeting venue and the mobile number of the client. There would also be messages discussing the services requested.
Detectives also found a message on her phone which demonstrated the control that was being exercised. As well as financially controlling the girls, Claudia dictated how the women should look. Officers found a message on her phone that she sent in December 2020 instructing the girls to dress elegantly, with make-up and straightened hair. She said they would be photographed by the drivers before meeting with customers and if they did not ‘respect her rules’ they would be sent home to get changed or ‘even off.’ The drivers were told not to leave with the girl before she gave her confirmation.
Photos of women posing in their underwear were also found in WhatsApp messages sent from Claudia to Strat, and were similar to those used in the online adverts.
The trio all gave ‘no comment’ interviews and were subsequently charged on 15 January 2021.
Detective Inspector Nigel Penney, from the Met’s Modern Slavery and Child Exploitation Team, said: “This was an excellent investigation by my team of detectives, which resulted in the defendants changing their pleas to guilty due to the overwhelming evidence against them. This criminal enterprise was run and controlled by Claudia Anca who, along with her brother Vasile and Strat, had absolutely no regard for the welfare or safety of the women they exploited for their own greed.
“The Met is committed to keeping London a safe place for everyone and will continue to work behind the scenes to robustly target and bring to justice people like the Anca siblings and Strat who treat people as nothing more than an object to make money.
“We remain absolutely dedicated to doing all we can to protect women and girls, like those who were exploited by the Ancas and Strat. The Met takes all reports of exploitation extremely seriously and I would encourage anyone who has suffered from these kind of offences to contact police where they will be treated sensitively and any allegations will be thoroughly investigated.”
Anyone with information about exploitation and modern slavery is asked to call the police on 101. Alternatively call the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.