Payback time for mobility conmen who targeted vulnerable
Two Nottinghamshire businessmen who conned life savings from the elderly and disabled for mobility aids they never delivered have been ordered to pay back more than £40,000 from their ill gotten gains.
Father and son Shane Johnson (55) and Laurence Johnson (27) of Kegworth, Leicestershire were each ordered to pay more than £20,000 from money they obtained illegally through their business, Nottingham Mobility at Nottingham Crown Court on 16 February.
Both men were jailed for 12 months in July last year at Nottingham Crown Court for offences under the Consumer Protection for Unfair Trading Regulations.
They operated their business selling mobility products such as scooters, stair lifts and chairs from bases in Southchurch Drive, Clifton and Brookside Road Industrial Park in Ruddington.
And now, following last week's ruling, Shane Johnson must pay the full amount of £20,470.64 within six months or face another 12 month jail term. Almost £8,500 of the sum will be paid out in compensation to five victims who are still owed money.
Laurence Johnson must pay back £1,000 within six months or be jailed for 28 days. The outstanding monies Laurence Johnson gained through his criminal activity can be recovered at a later date, if he acquires new assets such as property or vehicles in the future.
The action follows a Proceeds of Crime investigation by Nottinghamshire County Council Trading Standards.
As part of the investigation, the County Council's Proceeds of Crime team pored over financial information relating to the Johnsons from their business and personal dealings, including bank accounts, receipts, order books and property values.
This helped to establish how much money the Johnsons had gained from their criminality and the assets they had available which could be cashed in immediately.
The £8,500 owed in compensation to Nottingham Mobility customers will be paid to five victims, with amounts ranging from £60 to £5,500. The amounts relate to money handed over where none or only part of the goods or services promised in return were actually delivered.
One of the victims to be compensated is a 93 year-old man from North Nottinghamshire who will receive £5,500 back that he handed over for a variety of mobility products which were not delivered. The man was visited five times in the space of year by Nottingham Mobility, on one occasion buying a mobility scooter to replace a model he'd only bought from them one month earlier.
Victims will only receive the compensation when the Johnsons have paid their confiscation amounts to the court.
The remainder of the money owed by the Johnsons will be split between the Courts and Nottinghamshire County Council Trading Standards to spend on tackling other criminal activity in the area.
Councillor Mick Murphy, Cabinet Member for Community Safety at Nottinghamshire County Council said he hoped that the verdict sends out a message that crime doesn't pay.
He said, "Nottinghamshire County Council's proceeds of crime team ensure that those who cheat and scam get hit where it really hurts, in the pocket.
"I am delighted that the victims will at last be compensated for money the Johnsons scammed from them and that there will be a sum for Trading Standards to use to protect the public from other unscrupulous individuals in the future.
"Trading Standards will not only prosecute those who con the public, we will pursue them for every penny of the money they've obtained illegally. That could mean them losing their savings, their car or even their home."
Paul Gretton, Team Manager of Trading Standards East Midlands Scambusters Team which led the investigation into Nottingham Mobility welcomed the verdict.
He said, "This is a fitting end to a scuccessful case taken by the East Midlands Scambusters team in partnership with Nottinghamshire County Council Trading Standards. I hope it sends out a clear message that Trading Standards will make these people pay for their criminal behaviour."
Anyone who thinks they have been missold mobility aids should contact Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06. Residents in Nottinghamshire can also contact Nottinghamshire County Council's social care team on 08449 80 80 80 for advice before purchasing mobility products.
Notes to Editors
Nottinghamshire County Council is one of only a handful of authorities in the East Midlands to have a proceeds of crime team attached to its Trading Standards service.
Using powers under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, to date the service has secured in the region of £200,000 in cash and assets gained illegally by 15 criminals in the last four years.
Further information about the proceeds of crime team is available from www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/home/newshome/prarticle.htm?id=146421
For further informtion on this press release contact Rob Shirley, Senior Media Officer on 0115 977 2802 or email email@example.com