A fraudster who deceived businesses into backing a bogus anti-drugs campaign has been jailed for four-and-a-half years.
Peter Kemp was charged with three others following an investigation into the fraud, which was worth at least £700,000, by Staffordshire Police’s Economic Crime Unit and Stoke-on-Trent City Council Trading Standards officers.
The 45-year-old, of Ack Lane East, Bramhall, led the conspiracy which involved setting up bogus publishing businesses that purported to produce anti-drugs leaflets for schoolchildren.
The businesses had names including The Publication Company (TPC), MM Publications (MMP), DotCom Publications (DotCom) and React Publications (React).
Kemp instigated call centres in Stoke-on-Trent, Stockport and Macclesfield which rang local businesses to persuade them to sponsor leaflets to be sent to a school of the donor’s choice. Upon payment, the donor received a sample leaflet but no leaflets were sent to the chosen schools.
Kemp pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to obtain property by deception between January 1 2005 and November 30 2007 to the approximate amount of £700,000 in July 2009.
Christopher Gibbs, 25, of Whiteacre Road, Ashton under Lyne; Michael Schaffer, 23, of Cotswold Road, Stockport, and Denis Earle, 33, of Heath Street in Chesterton, Newcastle, all pleaded guilty to the same offences.
Gibbs, Schaffer, and Earle were all sentenced at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court in September 2009 to 12 months in prison suspended for two years with 250 hours unpaid work. Kemp failed to attend court for sentence and a warrant was issued for his arrest. He surrendered to the courts last Wednesday and was sentenced on Tuesday.
DC Nick Walker, from the Economic Crime Unit, said: “Kemp played the lead role in the conspiracy. He influenced every aspect of the businesses and tried to hide his identity by using a number of aliases. He was involved in recruiting, training, drafting telephone scripts and setting up and organising the call centres for all the businesses.
“The bogus businesses were vehicles for fraud created by the defendants to give a veneer of respectability to their dishonest enterprise. The sales pitch used by the telephone operators, which was scripted by the defendants, promoted what appeared a worthy cause and played upon the public spirit of the people being called.
“The investigation saw close co-operation between Staffordshire Police and Trading Standards which highlights our determination to bring to justice fraudsters who prey on the good nature of small businesses.