THREE company directors have been ordered to pay back more than £200,000 following a fraud investigation sparked by a York pensioner.
John Alexander Higginson, Vincent Andrew Watkinson and Timothy Leonard Herbert Wright were all jailed for their involvement with Compass Mobility.
The company, based in Clay Cross near Chesterfield, was raided in 2009 following an investigation by police and trading standards officials from York, Derbyshire and the East Midlands. They launched a joint operation after the York woman in her 80s was sold a mobility aid allegedly not fit for purpose, as revealed by The Press at the time.
Hundreds more disgruntled customers came forward, with fraudulent trading and mis-selling including failure to return deposits to customers, failing to explain credit agreements or persuading customers to sign them without adequate knowledge, and salespeople refusing to leave elderly customers’ homes despite being asked repeatedly to do so.
This week, following a further investigation under the Proceeds of Crime Act, Higginson, 63, of Locko Road, Lower Pilsley, Chesterfield, was ordered to hand over £150,000 within six months or face two and a half years in prison. He was also ordered to pay £9,893.68 prosecution costs
Watkinson, aged 51, of Bythorpe Road, Chesterfield, was ordered to repay £18,661.49 within six months or face a year in prison, and Wright, 47, of Goldcrest Road, Sponden, was ordered to hand over £4,700 within six months or face three months in prison. Wright was also ordered to pay a total of £26,400 compensation to the victims and an ex-employee.
Coun Tracey Simpson-Laing, deputy leader of City of York Council, which hosts the regional Scambuster team, said: “These individuals cynically exploited some of the most vulnerable members of our communities.
"I am pleased that in addition to receiving an appropriate punishment they now will lose any money they still have as a result of their appalling conduct, and will be forced to compensate victims.”
Lord Toby Harris, chairman of the National Trading Standards Board responsible for Scambusters, said: "Outcomes such as these send a message that schemes designed to defraud consumers will not be tolerated."