Newark gangleaders jailed for £500k scam of elderly victims

Con artists Image copyright Police handouts
Image caption Mathew Appleyard and Joseph Croft were jailed for their part in scamming elderly victims

The ringleaders of a gang that conned elderly victims out of hundreds of thousands of pounds have been jailed.

The Nottinghamshire-based group persuaded people to put their homes into a "worthless trust" to protect them from future care costs.

Joseph Croft, 53 of Lincolnshire, got a four-and-a-half year term while father and son Alan and Matthew Appleyard, of Halifax, were jailed for four years.

Five other men were handed lesser sentences earlier this week.

The gang, based in Newark, used scare stories to pressure pensioners into paying £2,000 for a "Family Prosperity Trust" or "Estate Preservation Trust".

Victims were told their assets would be protected if they later went into local authority care, but this was not the case, Nottinghamshire County Council's Trading Standards told the city's crown court.

In two years, the gang netted more than £500,000.

'You're violated'

Image caption Marie Price said the stress they were under contributed to her husband's death last year

Great-grandmother Marie Price was one of the gang's dozens of victims and described the men as "relentless and convincing".

Speaking after the sentencing, she said the stress contributed to her husband's death last year.

"The money [we lost] is bad, but it's nothing to what it does to you," she said. "You're violated and don't trust anybody."

In sentencing the trio, Judge Andrew Hamilton said: "It was a despicable act, preying on the most vulnerable members of the community.

"People like you... who prey on people like that... are people of the worst kind."

Croft, of Sleaford, and the Appleyards, admitted fraud and carrying out legal activity without the right.

Earlier in the week, five others were handed suspended jail terms. All admitted fraud.

Adam Nichols, of Newark, and Adrian Large, from Lincoln, received three months jail suspended for 18 months with 200 hours unpaid work.

Paul Fox, of Widnes, Cheshire, and Paul Gorman, from Lancashire, were jailed for four months, suspended for 18 months, with 200 hours unpaid work.

Joy Bell, from Goole, who also admitted carrying out legal activity when not entitled, was handed an 18-month jail term suspended for 18 months with 200 hours unpaid work.

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