Derby Crown Court heard on Friday, October 18, how Wayne Hardy, 39, of Trinity Close, Newbold, Chesterfield, and Kyle Simmen, 23, formerly of Sheffield Road, Whittington Moor, Chesterfield, admitted 27 counts of fraud.
The pair accumulated £27,242 with scams involving four bogus iPhone internet sales, eleven counts of bogus caravan rentals, ten counts of bogus house rentals and two counts of fraudulent home renovations.
Prosecuting barrister Sarah Slater said: “There were 27 victims over a period from September 16, 2016, until April, 2019. They engaged in four different types of fraudulent activity. They have been under investigation from May, 2017, onwards, but they continued to commit offences.”
Ms Slater explained how between September and October, 2016, Hardy and Simmen were selling iPhones over the website Shpock to four customers who paid into Simmen’s bank account but never received phones and they lost £1,160.
Between April, 2017, and July, 2017, the pair also ran a fraud advertising holiday caravans for hire on Facebook, according to Ms Slater, where victims made payments into a bank account but the keys never arrived and they lost £1,685.
Hardy and Simmen claimed to be renting caravans at sites including Coastfields, at Skegness, Kingfisher caravan park, at Ingoldmells, and Coral Beach, at Ingoldmells.
Ms Slater said: “Coral Beach said people were arriving at their site and were told caravans did not exist and they weren’t available and they reported it to police.”
Hardy and Simmen also set up a bogus house rental enterprise, according to Ms Slater, while they were living at a rented NACRO property where they were tenants on Forester Street, Derby.
Ms Slater said NACRO became aware Hardy and Simmen had rented this property to others and the defendants had been paid deposits before they moved out in October, 2017.
The conmen moved to Sheffield Road. Chesterfield, and continued advertising bogus rentals of properties at Hasland Court, Chesterfield, through a website.
They used bogus names and business titles, according to Ms Slater, and advertised rental properties around Chesterfield including at Kirkstone Road, Newbold, Newbridge Lane, Old Whittington, Ringwood Avenue, Newbold, Hillman Drive, Inkersall, and at Wain Avenue.
Ms Slater said the bogus house rentals ran from August, 2017, to April, 2018, with victims losing a total of £14,396 with advanced payments for properties they never moved into.
Victims were given excuses including cancelled viewings and meetings with false claims of car accidents, deaths of parents, frozen accounts and the defendants also put pressure on victims to pay claiming properties were attracting viewings.
One victim, who lost £1,150, said he had been planning to move to Derbyshire to be re-united with his long-lost daughter and another, who lost £6,600, stated that the stress caused the breakdown of a relationship and left him suicidal.
The defendants also conned two workmen out of £10,001 after Hardy and Simmen started renting a property on Orchard Close, Barlborough, and set up a kitchen re-fit.
Ms Slater said Hardy and Simmen employed a builder and during communications they pretended to be the property’s landlord who was to be quoted for the work.
The builder never received payment, according to Ms Slater, and he had arranged for another workmen to complete electrical work but he too was never paid.
Hardy and Simmen were exposed when workmen contacted the genuine landlady and police linked Simmen’s phone to the fraud.
The builder stated the fraud had damaged his reputation and had made it difficult to secure work and pay bills and he had been forced to borrow money from his 90-year-old mother.
Police linked Hardy and Simmen to the scams via their bank accounts, mobile phones and email communications as well as from their addresses.
The defendants initially tried to distance themselves from the frauds when they spoke to police and either gave excuses or blamed each other.
Hardy, who has 27 previous convictions including thefts and frauds, and Simmen, of Dukeries Crescent, Worksop, who has three previous convictions for burglary, theft and criminal damage, both pleaded guilty to the 27 counts of fraud.
Both also admitted breaching suspended prison sentences.
Defence barrister Gareth Gimson said Hardy had taken Simmen under his wing and had they had not met it would be unlikely that Simmen would have ended up in court.
Anette Thomas, defending, said: “Mr Hardy is ashamed of what he has done and he is aware of the background of the case as it has progressed.
“He has taken robust advice and he has faced the reality and he has taken his head out of the sand and listened to sound advice.”
She added that Hardy’s offending stems from a gambling addiction and family issues and he has been undergoing treatment relating to his abusive behaviour and has been tackling weight problems from a young age.
Judge Shaun Smith QC told the defendants: “The nature of the fraud which you two were perpetrating – and there were four types – are the types of fraud that affects people in many ways other than just losing money.”
Hardy was sentenced to four years and five months in custody and Simmen was sentenced to three years of custody.
Judge Smith QC commended Derbyshire police officers Detective Constable Adrian Harris and Detective Constable Elizabeth Cross for bringing the successful convictions.
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