Lancashire fraudsters jailed for bailiff scam
Four people have been jailed for scamming thousands of pounds from business owners by tricking them into paying false debts.
Thomas Moffett, 32, Elliot Reed, 38, Nancy Shaw, 50, and Gary Oliphant, 42, earlier admitted conspiring to commit fraud.
They were part of a network of 18 people sentenced at Preston Crown Court on Tuesday.
Fifteen of them allowed their personal accounts to be used to launder money.
Moffett was arrested in January 2013 for conspiring to defraud business owners through his company, Moth Communications Limited, which he ran from his house in Blackburn, Lancashire.
'Threatening and aggressive'
Victims were told they owed a debt and if it was not paid immediately police and bailiffs would come and seize property to the value of what was owed, usually several thousands of pounds, the court heard.
Moffett allowed £127,000 of fraudulent cash to pass through his bank account and targeted vulnerable people, including elderly owners of bed and breakfast hotels.
- Thomas Moffett, 32, of Bridge End in Barley was sentenced to two years and 10 months
- Elliot Reed, 38, of Clitheroe Road, Whalley was sentenced to two years and two months
- Nancy Shaw, 50, of Pemberton Street, Blackburn was sentenced to two years and one month
- Gary Oliphant, 42, of Campbell Street, Blackburn was sentenced to two years and five months
- A total of 14 others were given suspended sentences for money laundering
Det Con Jane Challenger said victims were bombarded with "threatening and aggressive" telephone calls.
"Victims felt pressurised to pay the money, some parting with life savings and in other cases being forced to close down their businesses," she said.
Police found Moffett's offences were linked to a second investigation involving Shaw, Reed, and Oliphant.
Oliphant admitted money laundering and allowing his home to be used for the scam.
He was arrested with mobile phones, SIM cards and a computer which had been used to research victims.
Some of the victims became seriously ill as a result of the crimes, police said.