Mother and son jailed after admitting fraud and exploitation against Slovakian men- one of the victims even forced into sham marriage
PUBLISHED: 13:49 01 October 2019
A mother and son who controlled two Slovakian men's bank accounts and took out loans and phone contracts in their names have been jailed.
Margita Slavikova, 68 of Cermen, in Nitra, Slovakia, and with her son Robert Slavik, 40, of Priory Road, Peterborough, admitted fraud charges against the men.
The two men were approached on the streets of Slovakia before being brought to the UK to be exploited and work for very little pay.
They lived at various addresses in Peterborough over the course of almost eight years - with one even being coerced into a sham marriage.
Slavikova's grandson Roman Slavik, 29 of West Parade, Peterborough, and daughter Maria Slavikova, 46 of the same address, were jailed in March this year for their crimes against the two victims.
The first victim, a 30-year-old man, was paid about £12,900 for nearly eight years of work - but the total he actually earned, including benefits, was £118,700.
The second victim, aged 46, was only paid about £13,600 for the same years of work but actually earned about £80,100.
Margita Slavikova controlled one of the victims' bank accounts, bank card, national insurance card and ID card.
The same victim was made to take out three loans totalling £3,000 by Slavik - but Margita Slavikova only paid him £150 back in return.
Margita did the same with the second victim and asked him to take out two loans totalling £1,000 - but paid him just £130 in return.
She also used the second victim's pay-as-you-go phone credit to call Slovakia, as well as pocketing his sick pay cheques over 18 months and giving him just £25 from these.
The man, who was unable to speak English, had been off work sick after a severe leg injury.
He was also forced by Margita to take out a tenancy for the Peterborough address in his own name and pay rent of £180 a week. The Slavikova family contributed none of their own cash for the household bills.
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Robert Slavik - the brother of Maria Slavikova - helped take out phone contracts using cash from the first victim's bank account.
He also underpaid the second victim and forced him to return to work before he was ready after surgery on a fractured ankle.
Both victims were moved to various addresses in Peterborough between 2008 and 2016, along with members of the Slavik family, until April 2016, when police executed a warrant in Lincoln Road, Peterborough.
Both men were rescued and entered into the National Referral Mechanism.
Robert Slavik and Margita Slavikova were never interviewed in relation to the allegations, as both fled the UK before officers executed the warrant in Peterborough.
A European arrest warrant was issued for Margita and she was consequently brought back to the UK. Robert was found to be living in Germany and was later also extradited.
Both Slavik and Slavikova admitted two counts of fraud - one count for each victim - in March this year.
They were sentenced at Cambridge Crown Court yesterday (30 September) where Slavikova was handed 50 months imprisonment and Slavik 40 months.
DC Pete Wise said: "This investigation was a big team effort and we are pleased two more members of the same family have now been sentenced for the parts they played.
"Both vulnerable victims were exploited by the Slavik family - people they thought they could trust
"Tackling modern slavery and exploitation is a priority for the force and court cases of this nature highlight that we are doing all we can to combat it.
"Increasing public knowledge of the signs of modern slavery is key to protecting the vulnerable. It's important that people are aware of how to spot the signs and report any concerns to us, no matter how small."
To report concerns around modern slavery, exploitation or human trafficking, call 101 or report your information online by visiting: https://www.cambs.police.uk/report/Report-Shared/Report-information-about-crime