11th Dec, 2016

Conmen trick elderly residents out of thousands of pounds

Solihull Editorial 7th Nov, 2015 Updated: 21st Oct, 2016

A PAIR of Yardley conmen tricked three vulnerable elderly residents out of thousands of pounds for products they never delivered, a court heard.

The victims included a 92-year-old Walmley woman in the advanced stages of Alzeimer’s and a dementia sufferer in Sandiacre, Nottingham.

Frank Walters, 54, and Mark Murphy, 53, of Brigfield Road, both denied three counts of fraud but were found guilty following a four-day trial at Birmingham Crown Court.

Walters was the owner of a firm called Gemini Healthcare while Murphy was the sales manager.

West Midlands Police and Birmingham City Council Trading Standards launched an investigation into the pair after being contacted by the son of the Walmley woman who discovered his mother had spent £1,200 in March last year for a single mattress which never materialise.

Investigators discovered they had also took £200 from a 78-year-old Northfield woman and £2,500 from a 91-year-old Sandiacre man in January 2013, who passed just seven months after.

The pair’s office was raided on July 15, 2014 and documents exposing shoddy bookkeeping practices were seized along with a back catalogue of customers who had been hugely over-charged for cheap products.

The court heard Walters legally bought the personal data on up to 5,000 people aged over 60 living in the Midlands – this included names, addresses and phone numbers of residents he then went on to target with high-pressure sales techniques.

Checks with Companies House revealed Walters had started and closed four similar named businesses in the space of 18 months in order to remain elusive and fob off customers who sought refunds.

Murphy was jailed five and a half years yesterday (November 5) while Walters was given four years.

They were also handed a Criminal Behaviour Order preventing them from ever selling goods to people aged over 50 and from ever being directors of any company.

Police are looking to seize both defendants’ assets to recover the money and compensate the victims and their families.

PC Alan Reeves said the £2,500 cheque taken from the Nottingham victim was filled out by Murphy and was the first cheque used against that account in five years.

He added: “They maintained very little in the form of record-keeping – a deliberate act to cover their tracks – while customers I spoke to told of high pressure sales techniques.

“Some recalled how Murphy spent hours in their homes and only agreed to buy something to get rid of him.

“These are cruel men who deliberately targeted elderly, vulnerable people and thought nothing of conning large sums of money from people in the advanced stages of dementia.

“Two of their three victims have since passed away – I hope their family can take some comfort from the fact these men have been jailed.”